TOKYO: Japanese auto giants Toyota and Nissan are reducing production in China because demand for Japanese cars has been hit by a bitter row over disputed islands, officials said Wednesday.
“Our affiliates in China are adjusting production in consideration of demand,” a Toyota spokesman said.
“There is an effect from the current situation between Japan and China on our sales,” he added.
He was responding to a question about the impact of a festering row over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which knows them as Diaoyu.
A Nissan spokesman said plants run by its joint venture in China will suspend operations for slightly longer than China’s early-October holiday period.
He said Dongfang passenger vehicle plants will stop production from September 27 to October 7 “in the view of the current market situation, and since China’s national holiday will occur soon”.
“Production will restart on October 8. After this we will remain flexible regarding the market situation,” he said.
The comments came as the foreign ministers of China and Japan held talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
China has been infuriated by the Japanese government’s move to buy the islands from their private owner.
The meeting was the highest-level face-to-face between the two sides since the government purchase earlier this month.
An official at Honda, another Japanese automaker, who requested anonymity, said there had been a negative impact on the firm’s sales in China owing to the tensions.
The impact of the bitter row has already spilled over into other sectors, affecting trade between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Chinese and Japanese airlines said they would curb the number of flights linking Chinese and Japanese cities, while Japanese firms reported China was ramping up customs inspections for Japanese products at its ports.
A number of Japanese companies, including Panasonic and Honda, halted production at their Chinese factories last week because of fears for the safety of staff and the facilities, but most resumed fairly quickly.
During the meeting on Tuesday in New York, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accused Japan of committing a “gross violation” of China’s territorial integrity, according to China’s state Xinhua news agency.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said there was an intense atmosphere in the talks, which lasted for about about one hour.