Japan's Misguided Car Imports Skyrocket

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
japan s misguided car imports skyrocket

Here is another myth that won’t die, as hard as we might be trying to debunk it: “Japan is a closed market for cars. They do everything to keep foreign cars out. Those Nips are unfair, and it’s time to do something about it.”

It’s baloney. Paul Niedermeyer debunked the propaganda, and said: “Want to import cars to Japan? It’s one of the easiest countries to do so.“ I did another story and showed, for those with reading comprehension problems, a picture of Japanese im- and exports. But the story won’t die. Ok, let’s try again to put it to rest.

Sales of imported cars in Japan jumped 34.7 percent on the year to 119,053 vehicles in the first half of fiscal 2010. That according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the Japan Automobile Importers Association, and brought to us by The Nikkei [sub]. In September alone, sales of imported cars in Japan jumped 45.1 percent to 30,004 vehicles.

Then why the myth that the Japanese block imports? Well, they import the wrong cars, as far as the U.S. is concerned. Volkswagen has for long been the biggest import brand in Japan, and their sales jumped 37.7 percent to 25,399. Next in line is Nissan which imported and sold 16,869 vehicles, a huge jump from just 167 cars a year earlier. Germany’s BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi were the next highest sellers. American cars didn’t even rate a mention. With Japanese car makers exporting whole factories abroad and importing their own cars from low cost, soft currency markets, the import number is expected to rise considerably.

There are no import restrictions for cars in Japan. The tariff is zero. It’s just that nobody seems to want an American car. It’s uncool. Or “dasai” as they say in Japan. My father-in-law in Tokyo gets a new BMW every year, and he sure would have room for something much bigger in his six car garage. But a Cadillac? I think he would die of embarrassment instead. Even members of the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza, shun a Cadillac. Their conveyance of choice is a black S-Class Mercedes with tinted windows. Show up with a Camaro, and you’ll lose a finger.

I guess it’s easier to point fingers and blame non-existent import restrictions than to admit that you are dasai.

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3 of 41 comments
  • Duncan36 Duncan36 on Oct 17, 2010

    The OP is covering up the truth. The truth is that imports are subject to ridiculous spot inspections that often require costly repairs. Domestic cars in Japan are supposed to get the same inspections but flaws are overlooked and every car gets waved through. Japan just simply does not play fair to protect its home market.

    • Niky Niky on Oct 17, 2010

      Oh? is that why secondhand Japanese market Japanese branded cars are such a big export item? ALL Japanese market cars are subject to ridiculously restrictive and expensive inspections that sometimes require expensive repairs. Which is why so many three-year old Japanese cars are available for ridiculously low prices on the global market. If an American market car cannot pass because it has wrong colored turn signals (the rest of the word require amber turn signals... as opposed to the US market, which allows red), then that's hardly Japan's fault, is it?

  • Dodgeowner Dodgeowner on Jan 30, 2012

    I have owned a 1981 Mazda 626, 1987 Mazda 626, 1992 Mazda MX-6 and 2007 Mazda 6, all good cars. I see shy Japanese cars sell.

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