Japan: New car sales excluding mini-vehicles up 41 pct in June image

New car sales in Japan rose 40.9 percent in June from a year earlier to 317, 152 vehicles (data without 660cc minivehicles), the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said on Monday. Sales for the first six months of the year were up 55 percent from a year earlier, to 1.86 million vehicles.

The Japan Mini Vehicles Association said separately that June sales of mini vehicles were up 48% to 188,190 units.

Toyota, Japan’s largest carmaker said its sales rose 69.7 percent. On the same time, Honda said sales rose 50.3 percent, while Nissan fell 5.5 percent. The biggest decline was recorded by Mitsubishi Motors – 14.9 percent.

The relative strength of June sales partly reflect the weak year-earlier comparison. Sales in June of 2011 were down 23% as a bottleneck in the parts-supply pipeline, the result of the earthquake and tsunami three months earlier, dented production.

Japan’s unemployment rate improved to 4.4% in May amid a gradual recovery from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters of a year ago.

Core consumer prices for the Tokyo metropolitan area, a leading indicator of price trends for the rest of Japan, fell 0.6 per cent in June from the same month a year ago.

The Bank of Japan (8301) is under pressure to do more to help the nation shake off deflation and sustain a recovery from last year’s tsunami and earthquake. A planned increase in the consumption tax in 2014 and 2015, approved by the lower house of parliament this week, may become a drag on the economy by discouraging spending.