Japanese Auto Sales in China Affected by Protests image

This weekend’s anti-Japan protests that took place in China may seriously affect the Japanese automakers.

The damage brought to the Japanese car makers in China may be more serious than the loss caused by the natural disasters last year. Many Chinese dealerships that sell Japanese vehicles remained closed after some outlets were attacked and vandalized. Luo Lei, deputy secretary general of the China Automobile Dealers Association declared that the Chinese citizens won’t even think about buying a Japanese car due to safety concerns.

“The impact caused by natural disasters can be fixed quickly, while it takes a longer time and efforts to make hostile sentiment against Japanese cars go away,” said Luo. “I have worked at the association for 10 years and this round of losses suffered by Japanese car dealers is the worst I’ve seen.”

This is the worst flare-up of tensions between China and Japan, Asia’s two largest economies, since 2005. Toyota and Panasonic reported fire caused damages to their operations, a Honda Civic was set on fire in front of a dealership in Shanghai, and thousands of demonstrators in Chinese cities were spreading flyers listing names of Japanese brands to boycott.

“The longer the conflict between China and Japan lasts, the more this anti-Japanese sentiment will spread among ordinary consumers,” said Klaus Paur, Shanghai-based global head of automotive at researcher Ipsos.