The sales of Japanese manufacturer cars imported into Japan are on the up and up. A good example of this is Nissan’s March (Micra), which is now producing in Thailand for sale in Japan. In fact, the numbers of Japanese cars being produced overseas for sale back in Japan has jumped a whopping 235.9% in the last year.
I think we will look back on this year as the tipping point for the hollowing out of the Japanese car industry. The strong Yen has something to do with this, but I believe the reason is largely psychological: The Japanese have very definite ways of doing things and it has taken them a long time to really be convinced that non-Japanese people can build their cars to the same standards. Although these car giants have been having cars built overseas since the late 70s, it has taken until now for them to gain the confidence that these cars really match up to the same locally-produced item in terms of quality.
With costs in Japan being so high, and facing a rapidly declining base of young people to bring into the workforce, I believe that this change of attitude among the car makers will see an increasing shift to production outside Japan for both the overseas and internal Japanese markets. It may well be in the future that only the very high end premium models are produced in Japan anymore.
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