Japan: auto production down 60.1 percent in April image

Japan’s auto production and exports suffered record falls in April, as parts shortages in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake disrupted manufacturers’ operations for the entire month, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Tuesday.

Total domestic production of cars, trucks and buses plunged 60.1 percent year-on-year in April, as the massive calamity led to plant closures and cut supply chains, JAMA said.

Domestic sales in April stood at 185,673 vehicles, down 47.3 percent as compared with the same month of the previous year.

Meanwhile, the country’s automobile exports in April were recorded as 126,061 units. Compared with the 391,540 unit total recorded for the same month of the previous year, this is a decrease of 265,479 units or 67.8 percent. In April, exports recorded a year-on-year decrease for the second consecutive month.

The industry association’s chairman Toshiyuki Shiga welcomed the government’s recent decision to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.

‘The Japanese automobile industry’s longstanding presence in Europe reflects its significant investment in the region over many years,’ Shiga said.

Earlier this week, Japanese authorities have announced, so far unofficially, that the government will be financially supporting the auto industry by creating a $617 million fund which is to be used to help the local parts suppliers get back on their feet.

“The East Japan Great Disaster seriously damaged supply chains of auto parts makers, and we have been discussing possible financial support for them,” a Japanese official was quoted as saying by AFP. “Our negotiation is in the final stage. The size is likely to be as big as 50 billion yen.”