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U.S. cars do not fit Japan's market or Japanese consumers' requirements because of size, high fuel consumption and higher prices. They need to have a line-up that suits Japanese consumers' preferences

27 Comments

A Japanese government source in Tokyo, rejecting Detroit's contention that regulatory and other hidden or structural barriers keep U.S. cars out of the Japanese market. (Reuters)

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Quote of the day or yesteryears? An old and well-known argument of Japan's Bubble Economy Era !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Agree with Some14some; must be nice to have a job where you need nothing more than to pick up the "book of excuses" and read out loudly. No thought, data, investigation, or work in general required. I wish I had this dude's job!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

An old and well-known argument of Japan's Bubble Economy Era !

@some14some

Agreed. I've been hearing this line since the 1980s.

Some other oldies-but-goodies that I remember: refusal to import foreign-made skis because they are not made for the unique Japanese snow; refusal to import beef because it is hard for Japanese people to digest due to their presumably shorter intestines; refusal to allow large-scale overseas retailers to set up shop because Japanese people prefer shopping at small stores (of course that was before the resounding success of Costco/Ikea and others). All laughable, all lame excuses.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just the same as saying there is not such a thing like " Japanese consumer's preference". someone decided what your preferences should be. Same old Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In this era of shared platforms, that way of thinking is just plain wrong. Ford and Mazda, GM and Suzuki, etc. have popular whose core mechanical structures are nearly the same.

GM, meanwhile, is steaming ahead in China, where their cars' compact size and efficiency are highly appreciated, and where GM is leaving its Japanese rivals in the dust.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

too bad these old dudes do business with blinders on. talk about eat my dust. these old guys are ginding japan into that very dust.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see plenty of German cars in Japan. And there are lots of successfull American businesses over here (Mcdonald, Starbucks, etc). Just because they are incapable doesn't mean they should complain to the government.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well I guess one thing going for Jpn domestically here on in is that less & less outsiders are even inclined to bother with Japan due to the ticking demographic time bombs that are now regularly going off.

Just like J-history the locals are constantly & heavily brainwashed, they have been sold lies hook line & sinker for decades for japan incs benefit, but now haha japan inc is all scrambling to get the hell outta here because of population crash that has begun

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@GW

Again, there are some successfull American business over here in Japan. Do you think Japanese people don't know how to make hambergers and coffees ? We do but if McDonald and Starbacks know how to run business better, then they deserve to make money in japan.

"The big three" are totally incapable and can't produce cars that Japanese people need, (how many years did they need to realize that they need to put the steering wheel on the right hand side of a vehicle to seel cars in Japan?)

Go on and keep blaming Japan instead of improving the quality of the products.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Argument FAIL. If it's only because of consumer tastes, and not effective trade barriers, then where are all the Korean cars, which are just as small, cost efficient, and fuel efficient as Japanese cars?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sorry but see gaijinfo, Japan is guilty as I charged!

Wud love to hear from Hide why there are no Hyundai in Japan! I am pretty sure I know why tho.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gaijinfo, in fairness Hyundai/Kia's products have only very recently become contenders. In the last 3-4 years. Their diss advantage is that they are mass market cars with little price advantage over the local product. That coupled with the cheap and cheerful image they image they still have stands in their way. I think things will change over time.

The problem with the US product remains and has done for many years, too big, too cheaply made and too thirsty. If the US big thee marketed their European and Korean made product more and had some patience, maybe they'd have better luck.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sorry Gaijinfo, I meant GW.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Carp!

Some other oldies-but-goodies that I remember: refusal to import foreign-made skis because they are not made for the unique Japanese snow;

I have only skied on Salomon and Atomic here over 18 years.

I would love to buy a Ford S-Max, but they don't import them, why? Ford chooses to import US made cars that are not a patch on the European designed models. Only recently did they start importing the Kuga, but rather than take advantage of high yen and price competitively, Ford thought it could make inroads just by name alone. Another example of a huge opportunity just wasted because of short term greed.

Japanese will choose cars that suit their market, not the US, they WILL buy foreign products if it suits them, just don't expect that it suits them because your standards are lower!

Gambatte US car makers - there is an opportunity for you if you care!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@gaijinfo

Funny you ask questions instead of answering my question, against for the third time, I see German cars pretty often in japan, they are way more successfull than American 'Big three" , so trade barrier shouldn't be used as an excuse.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@GW Regarding Korean cars, hopefully they will be more popular in the future but just because they came up with decent cars in the last several years doesn't change people's perception over night, just like American cars. Both Korean and American makers kept producing less than average cars for a few decades and expect us to like their car suddently ?

It took the oil shock in the 70s for Japanese manufacturers to get decent market share in the US

Also as you know many Japanese people are biased against Korean cars, just like Toyota can't break into the European market with their Lexus brand, because Europeans mainly go by brand image, and no matter what, they say "Mercedes is the best " LOL .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Been discussed here ad nauseum.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/have-your-say/view/last-year-japan-exported-1-5-million-vehicles-to-the-united-states-while-u-s-automakers-exported-just-8000-why-arent-u-s-makers-selling-more-in-japan

And yet nobody has yet to come up with this so-called "non" tarriff barriers that Japan allegedly imposes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have only skied on Salomon and Atomic here over 18 years.

@gyouza

The ski trade spat happened pre-1995, and was very well known at the time. Proof — NY Times article (The World: Good Deficit, Bad Deficit; The Fear Is Gone, Not the Danger) from Mar 1, 1998, "American skis were barred from Japan as unsafe because the customs inspectors insisted Japanese snow was different"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@nigelboy Check out the automotive committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. They have a raft of very specific and technical NTBs.

To cite just one of many examples, GM had a program, Project Driveway, to promote and test fuel-cell vehicles to a large number of customers around the world. Not in Japan. The vehicle has a hydrogen tank whose steel specifications don't exist in Japan, therefore Japanese bureaucrats simply banned the project outright, and GM cannot test its fuel cell vehicles on public roads in Japan to adapt them to the market.

Many of the NTBs cited by the Americans are based on the mindset of Japanese bureaucrats that "if we aren't familiar with it, then it must be banned." Regulators in other countries will prohibit products only if they are in violation of specific regulations. In Japan, foreign products are often banned by default, and gaining approval requires a lot of lobbying.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Jeff Lee,

In other words, don't abide by the regulations set forth by the market nation you are trying to target. Enforce your own standards by shoving down their throats. Typical ain't it? Did these morons whine because their cars had an unfair disadvantage in regards to the eco point system? What's next? Enforce the Japanese to create bigger roads so that their cars can be competitive?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Nigelboy

if countries outside Japan did what Japan has been doing for decades Japan wud NEVER have come anywhere near the 2nd largest economy, Japan is very skilled at keeping out products, just ask Motorola back in the early mid 90s when mobile phones were getting going Japan just SHUT THEM OUT!

The only time it gets easy is if its something Japan wants but doesnt produce much if at all, just look at say grapefruit, its all imported by surely you remember the story about non-J apples, they were constantly ROASTED in the media, used some fungus or bacteria ruse as well, like I said Japan is very skilled at non tarrif stuff

And like I said if the rest of the world were like Japan then Japan likely wud have only had a slightly better lifestyle than the north koreans

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@GW

Can you not understand that German cars are more popular than American cars ? Executives at the big three have the same attitudes as you do, that's why they have been failing.

"This is what we sell in the US so this is what we will sell in Japan", yeah, winning formula

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The big three (more like 2 mid size and one small) can't fathom the possibility that maybe they need to improve the quality of their products instead of complaining anything and everything.

When many American consumers prefer Japanese cars over American cars, and you expect Japanese to buy American cars ?

Again they took more than 10 years to realize that they need install the steering wheel on the right hand side, duh

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Hide you need to take off the blinkers, seriously

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And like I said if the rest of the world were like Japan then Japan likely wud have only had a slightly better lifestyle than the north koreans

Can we dispense with the melodramatics here? It would help if actually gave an example of what this non tariff barrier is regarding the auto industry.

And in regards to Motorola, this is a classic example of U.S government pressuring the Japanese government to implement more of the TACS system which favored Motorola.

Read my previous statement.

Enforce your own standards by shoving down their throats.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@nigelboy Hello? I JUST gave you a very specific example of an NTB. Read and learn. And check out the ACCJ's automotive committee. There is not a NTB, there's a long list of many documented NTBs.

And no (sigh), it's not the case of foreign manufacturers seeking to violate Japan's regulations. It's a case of Japanese regulators prohibiting advanced technologies, simply because they don't know about them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JeffLee, are you trying to say US made cars dont sell because Japan doesnt understand the tech? Hmmm. They dont sell for the reasons stated. Its about quality.

I earned my living right through the nineties to the mid 2000s working with US makers importing and selling their product. No-one, including the expats, was under any illusion that the product was competitive. We saw many a new model, all apparently the new game changer, forced onto the market and not once did the home offices take any notice. As long as the new VP could get his new model on the market he could get his promotion and move on. Reward for failure is not a new phenomenon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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