By on September 3, 2012

All the complaints about Japan being a “closed market” are hogwash; look at all the imports coming in to Japan from places like Thailand, Malaysia and China.

No, Japan isn’t quite ready for a Malaysian or Chinese car, but Thai-made cars, like the Nissan March, are leading a trend against Japan’s mentality of buying domestic made goods. According to a report by Bloomberg, nearly 40 percent of goods made by Japanese companies will be made offshore, a record number.

The unfavorable exchange rate between the Yen and U.S. Dollar is being blamed for the new trend, and it’s unlikely to change any time soon. On the other hand, Japanese consumers tend to subscribe to the “buy local” mantra, and the rise of the Honda Fit has been attributed by some to the Thai-built March’s decline in popularity due to its origins.

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14 Comments on “Japan Opens Up To Imports; Just Not From The Big Three...”

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    ? The weak dollar (USDJPY at 78.31 at the moment) should help US export price competitiveness.. Perhaps the issue is that American builders don’t build cars that fit the Japanese size and tax profile?

  • avatar

    Perhaps the real reason that foreign cars are not sold in any quantity in Japan is that Japan’s auto market IS really a closed market. How is that for a possibility? The truth is easy to see if you choose to open our eyes and use your brain. How is it that in China where the decisions to allow foreign businesses are tightly controlled, you see all sorts of car makers building there, yet somehow no foreign maker has figured out how to do this in Japan’s open market. Not BMW, MB, VW, Audi, Kia/Hyundai, Fiat, Ford, GM, etc. Yet you see all the listed automakers building around the world. Before those say the Japanese are very nationalism, the most well of there don’t seem to mind buying foreign i.e. MB, BMW, Audi’s etc. For another point rather than the SOS read “Detroit’s Collapse: the untold story”. For those worried it was paid for my GM, it was not.

    • 0 avatar

      ‘Perhaps the real reason that foreign cars are not sold in any quantity in Japan is that Japan’s auto market IS really a closed market. How is that for a possibility?’

      Well to answer your question, complete and utter nonsense! This mantra about the ‘closed’ Japanese market is and has been utter bunk for years now and the sort of thing that GM apologists have been slinging around to defend their darling car maker and it’s inferior products. The Japanese value quality, reliability and above all, value for money. That’s the reason GM cannot sell a rat in Japan. Even when Toyota rebadged Cavaliers and marketed them as Toyota Cavaliers (backed by a Toyota warranty), the Japanese would not buy them. Now Americans, Europeans and Canadians are becoming very much like the Japanese in this respect. They don’t want a car that they will pay for twice in it’s lifetime in parts and service. The golden rule when buying GM is, as it always has been: Don’t keep it 10 seconds past it’s warranty expiration.

    • 0 avatar

      More the case of being pretty unprofitable for BMW, MB, VW, Audi, Kia/Hyundai, Fiat, Ford, GM, to make cars in Japan, given the number already sold there and the very high Yen.

  • avatar

    I think most American savvy consumers dont’ want to buy GM. So why criticize the Japanese for being astute consumers. According to CR and other well respected publications, GM is not building cars that are competitive. Ford is doing better but the Japanese are not known to waste money on ‘just so products’. Nuff said.

  • avatar

    @oboylepr & Rday Where do you see me pushing GM in my writing? Your own bias blinds you both to facts and reason. No where to you seem me pimping GM. No where! And what has GM got to do with fact that no other foreign auto maker builds in Japan? Are you going to tell me VW, Audi ,MB, BMW, Fiat, Kia/Hyundai, Renault, Citroen, Peugeot and others all make poor cars as well? Well what a discovery! I guess the rest of the auto buying world are dumboes , unlike those buyers in Japan. What is that attribute the Japanese auto buyer has unlike the rest of car buyers in the world? What makes the Japanese auto buyer so different? I want to know? Or as much as you don’t want to admit it, there is protectionism, and that is the real reason no foreign auto builder is there and why foreign imports are so little in sales.

  • avatar

    Japan is a closed society. Anyone who dealt with Japanese knows it. They do not like foreigners, they do not trust them, they do not accept someone else’s design. I cannot imagine Japanese outsourcing SW development or chip design to India, China or Israel. They will not accept anything unless they can reproduce it themselves and under their own standards and processes. Of course German designs are so good that they hopelessly try to reproduce the magic and cannot for many decades. But American cars? Toyota makes better American cars than American companies. It is not like I want American companies to emulate Toyota but fact is fact – Japanese outdid Americans at their own home market. So if Japanese even wanted American cars – Honda, Toyota and Nissan already make them better.

    • 0 avatar

      Guess what Countries Automobiles are dominating the US sales charts?

    • 0 avatar

      Not that you’re completely wrong, but it should be pointed out that Japan buys Intel chips just like everyone else for their PC’s. They buy up Apple products as enthusiastically as anyone else.

      • 0 avatar

        Wrong about what? Did you ever work with Japanese? If they could replicate (like AMD still does) Intel chips they would never bother using Intel chips. Japanese companies cannot compete even with AMD! Nec copied i8086 and may be even i80286 but Intel was developing technology at such a fast rate that Japanese simply could not follow. Intel drove out of business even agile Taiwanese companies which were making chipsets for Intel processors. No matter how good Japanese engineers are – they do not have Silicon Valley culture. When they lag in technology it is very difficult for them to catch up since their processes are complicated and slow. Of course to beat Detroit or other union controlled business is not so difficult to beat for anyone but Silicon Valley with its Agile development processes – no chance. Japanese companies are too conservative to effectively compete. Japan is totally busted in SW development race and anything related to Internet. Japanese Government prided itself in adoption of iMode (their only success in SW) in Europe but it become obsolete overnight when iPhone was announced. I remember several years ago we were developing solution for iMode platform for our European partners and when we finished project 8 month later iMode was already dead – nobody in Europe cared about it anymore. Japanese could not simply copycat Apple products like Samsung or Taiwanese did – as a society they developed beyond just imitating or copying others.

  • avatar

    Interesting to note that BMW is building its 1st BWM Group Driving Center in Asia in South Korea and not Japan even tho the SKorean auto market is a good bit smaller.

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