• Kyodo

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Used vehicle sales in Japan, excluding minivehicles of up to 660 cc, fell 9.8 percent in April from a year earlier to 309,693 units, marking the fifth straight month of decline, an industry body said Monday.

The decline was attributable to a falloff in supply to the market as the number of trade-in vehicles fell due to weak sales of new vehicles and rising prices for used vehicles following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

The association said it would be difficult for people in quake-hit areas to buy used vehicles, given the supply shortage as they seek to rebuild their lives.

In the three prefectures that bore the brunt of the disaster, sales in hardest-hit Miyagi Prefecture jumped 83.1 percent and those in Iwate Prefecture rose 21.8 percent, due to rising demand after the catastrophe. However, sales in Fukushima Prefecture fell 1.6 percent due to the effects of the nuclear power plant accident caused by the quake.

By vehicle category, sales of cars fell 9.6 percent to 265,851 units, including 143,898 small cars, a record low for the month of April since 1978, when relevant data became available.

Truck sales declined 10.4 percent to 35,002 units, the lowest for the month of April.

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