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SHANGHAI (Kyodo) China’s largest-ever car exhibition opened to the public Friday amid heightened security for six major Japanese automakers.

Despite recent hostility toward Japanese products, the six carmakers put their latest China-targeted models on display and are anticipating growing sales in 2005.

Bracing for demonstrations against Japanese cars on display at the Shanghai International Convention center, located in the same city where about 20,000 people protested and vandalized Japanese property last weekend, about 200 more security guards than usual watched the exhibits while police patrolled outside the venue.

Japanese automakers at the annual auto show noticed the increased security but said it had had no effect on their displays, which included concept cars and new models that will be manufactured in China or imported later this year.

This year’s heavily publicized Shanghai Auto Show, an industry trade fair that alternates between Shanghai and Beijing, is shaping up to be China’s largest car show, with 1,360 participants. It runs through Thursday.

“We’ve attracted a lot of people to our booth, more than in Beijing, I think,” said Masaya Nagai, publicity general manager for Honda Motor Co. “Looking at our auto sales business, we haven’t seen any impact.”

Honda Motor has joined its two China joint ventures, Guangzhou Honda and Dongfeng Honda in Wuhan, in showing a new version of the CRV, a sport utility vehicle with a 2.4-liter engine upgrade and minor changes to the body.

Honda is also displaying the new Odyssey, which Honda of Guangzhou introduced in March. There was also a concept sports car and two gas-electric hybrids used overseas.

The firm expects to sell 260,000 vehicles in China this year, up from 250,000 last year. Rival Toyota Motor Corp. expects to sell 150,000 vehicles in China in 2005, up 40,000 units from the previous year.

Toyota is showing 23 vehicles, including four new ones, such as the Blazer. A spokesman said security was “fine” but that he had not spoken to Chinese consumers about their views on buying Toyota vehicles.

Exhibitor Nissan Motor Co. expects to sell 140,000 passenger vehicles in China this year, up from 61,000 in 2004, a company spokeswoman said.

At the show, Nissan is displaying two versions of the Tiida, a car manufactured in China, the seven-passenger Quest minivan and the Fuga sports sedan.

The company will start importing Fugas to China in June and begin selling Quests here in the autumn.

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