Japanese auto giants Toyota and Nissan yesterday said they would cut production in China because demand for Japanese cars has been hit by the bitter diplomatic row over disputed islands.
The announcements came as talks between the countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York ended without success.
“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 was responding to a question about the impact of a festering row over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, which are controlled by Japan, but claimed by Taiwan and China, which calls them the Diaoyu Archipelago.
A Nissan spokesman said plants run by its joint venture in China will suspend operations for slightly longer than the country’s early holiday period next month.
He said Dongfeng passenger vehicle factories would halt production from today to Oct. 7 “in the view of the current market situation, and since China’s national holiday will occur soon.”
“Production will restart on Oct. 8. After this, we will remain flexible regarding the market situation,” he said.
Toyota said production at its Tianjin FAW and Guanzhou-based GAC plants would be stopped until Saturday. The plants were already scheduled to close next week for the Chinese holiday.
Between them, the two plants represent the vast bulk of the manufacturer’s capacity in China, producing about 775,000 of the about 800,000 vehicles it makes.
The Sichuan FAW Toyota Motor’s (SFTM) plants in Chengdu and Changchun are to continue to operate, the company said.
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.
During the meeting on Tuesday in New York, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) accused Japan of committing a “gross violation” of China’s territorial integrity, according to Xinhua news agency.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said the atmosphere was intense in the talks, which lasted for about one hour.
Automakers were hit by shutdowns during sometimes-violent protests that rocked a number of Chinese cities after Japan nationalized three of the East China Sea islands on Sept. 11.
Japanese factories and businesses were shuttered amid fears they or their workers could be targeted by mobs.
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.