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Trade wars: Is Trump lining up Japan next?

By Anne Beade

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"Non-tariff trade barriers" for US automakers? NONSENSE! More than 300,000 foreign brand cars are sold in Japan every year. It is just that none of them are US brands. Why are the European car makers so successful? US automakers should take a good look at themselves. Or you can see their sales campaign: "Unsafe but really cheap!!"

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PS There are US auto dealers here in Japan. That means that they can make cars that meet Japanese safety requirements. They just don't sell. They should ask why.

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gokai; And Toyota alone has sold just over 900,000 vehicles from August 2017 to August 2018 in the USA. Most European cars are seen as luxury cars and easier to drive as most are already right hand drive. US cars are left hand drive. To convert is costly. And to not convert makes driving for some Japanese uncomfortable. In addition, maintenance costs is high as parts are so expensive which is why I have, in Japan a Japanese car and motorcycle. Harley parts are so expensive here and Harley shops charge an arm and a leg for services. Then you have very strict inspection process and high vehicle taxes.

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@since1981 US automakers do/did make a few compact right hand drive models, but these didn't sell either. I don't have a car, but my friend said that the interior is not a "cozy" interior that Japanese like. They didn't bother to study the market and Japanese taste.

since1981? You got here the year after I was born. I hear that the 80 were great (my parents say so anyway).

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gokai; Your parents are correct. The 80s was the best time (for me) of living in Japan.

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However, this is not likely to prove sufficient and Abe will have to use his negotiating skills.

Now THAT I'd like to see.

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This day had to come, sooner or later.

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“What Abe should do is promise to increase purchases of "shale gas, military items, and some other items that will not substantially affect domestic production,"

Here we go again. Can’t upset all those vested interests. Apples, nup.......Gotta protect those Aomori farmers. Ditto grapes, cherries, tomatoes and the rest. What about cars, electronics, steel? Nup, none of those either.

Japan is a country that has never been averse to taking full advantage elsewhere of that very quality of openness that they decry here. The road to becoming an export powerhouse, owner of vast equity in the U.S and status as one of the wealthiest countries in the world was in no small measure aided by the willingness of the U.S to accept some measure of societal change (read job losses) consequent to their penetration by Japanese exports. 

The U.S could have but elected not to deny Japan access to markets, an equity stake and technological advances pioneered there, yet Japan stonewalls without end when it comes to the U.S and others seeking reciprocal rights here. The rhetoric we are hearing from Trump about the need to recalibrate a trade relationship that is seriously skewed by one side’s propensity to want to play by two sets of rules, one for itself where it gets whatever it wants and the other for everybody else allowed a few crumbs, is a consequence of such zero sum game thinking.

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It's as simple as this... Japanese cars, good - European cars, good..... American cars, not so good.  

Cars are a bad investment at best.  So quality and value for your money trumps all other factors. 


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American cars, not so good.  

Old Hat

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