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Last month, Ford Motor Co. announced it would leave Japan by the end of the year, claiming the country has a “closed” market. American car companies have been complaining about Japanese protectionism since the 1980s, and gradually won concessions that resulted in greater opportunities for foreign automobiles in Japan, but they seem to have benefited manufacturers other than American ones.

It’s true, as the Ford spokesman told reporters, that the Japanese government helps domestic carmakers, but there was something about his tone that implied Ford never expected much from Japan. It only sold 5,000 cars here last year, and demographics being what they are, even if all the so-called barriers were lifted tomorrow, that figure likely wouldn’t rise much. So it’s best to get out while the getting is good.

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