Japan car sales hit by disasters

Japan car sales plunge nearly 40 per cent in March after disasters

Japan’s car sales plunged nearly 40 per cent in March after the tsunami and nuclear disaster, an industry group says.

Automakers sold 279,389 cars in Japan last month, down 37 per cent, the biggest ever year-on-year drop for March, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

The plunge in sales was due to weak consumer sentiment after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which decimated much of northern Japan, and the ensuing radiation leaks at the coastal Fukushima nuclear power plant.

“People are simply reluctant to buy cars at this time. The tsunami and the ongoing nuclear disaster have depressed consumer sentiment,” said association spokesman Masashi Miyajima.

Miyajima said many people in the quake-hit areas were also cancelling car purchases.

The tsunami caused massive disruptions in the supply of auto parts, forcing Toyota and others to suspend production.

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