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Nissan’s new vehicle sales up in China; Toyota still skidding

JIJI

Nissan Motor Co. said its new vehicle sales in China in April rose 2.7 percent from a year before to 102,800 units.

It was Nissan’s first sales increase since the Senkaku territorial dispute grew heated last September, except for January when its new car sales picked up thanks to the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays.

Toyota Motor Corp. meanwhile said Monday its sales of new automobiles in the Chinese market fell 6.5 percent year on year to 76,400 units. The margin of drop was far smaller than the plunge of nearly 50 percent marked last September.

Japan’s effective nationalization of the Senkakus, also claimed by China, triggered massive anti-Japan demonstrations.

Windows at Japanese car dealerships were broken and Japanese-brand vehicles were burned. These incidents led Chinese consumers to shun Japanese vehicles, hitting the automakers hard.

A Nissan spokesman expressed relief that anti-Japanese sentiment among Chinese has apparently receded.

Despite the overall strength of Nissan’s vehicle sales in China in April, however, sales of its passenger cars for the month were up only 0.1 percent year on year.

Industry sources warned that Japanese automobile sales in China may next show a drop because of Cabinet ministers’ recent visits to war-related Yasukuni Shrine.

Among the many ministers to have visited the controversial shrine this year was Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.