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Sales of new imported vehicles in Japan, including those produced overseas by Japanese manufacturers, fell 15.8 percent in October from a year earlier to 17,701 units for the largest decline since December 1998.

The Japan Automobile Importers Association said Friday that the double-digit decrease, which came after moderate increases in August and September, was mainly due to a lack of buying incentives as there were few new models on the market.

The total consisted of 15,789 foreign-brand imported vehicles, down 7.7 percent, and 1,912 Japanese-brand imported vehicles, down 51.3 percent.

The drop was also due to declining sales of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Avensis, manufactured in Europe and introduced in the Japanese market in October, it said.

The figure brought cumulative sales of imported vehicles from January to October to 223,070 units, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year.

Volkswagen regained its status as the top-selling imported brand in October after a one-month interval, with sales of 3,748 units.

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