New car sales in the 2018 business year rose 1.2 percent from the previous year to 5.26 million units, increasing for the third consecutive year on strong minicar sales.
The positive figures for the year ended Sunday came despite headwinds for the industry following a series of scandals: Former Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn was arrested for alleged financial misconduct while several automakers had to admit to improper vehicle inspections.
Sales of minivehicles with an engine capacity of up to 660 cc rose 3.4 percent to 1.92 million units, according to the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association.
Daihatsu Motor Co. remained at the top despite its minicar sales dropping 0.1 percent, while Honda Motor Co. saw an increase of 8.8 percent on brisk demand for the N-Box.
Sales of cars other than minivehicles stood at 3.34 million, down by around 1,600 units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
Toyota Motor Corp. saw a 2.3 percent fall, while Subaru Corp., which has recalled vehicles in Japan over malpractice including inspections by unauthorized staff, also affected the overall decline. Sales at Nissan and Mazda Motor Corp. were up.
In March alone, new car sales dropped 4.0 percent from a year earlier to 640,811 units, with both minicars and other vehicles declining.