The 81st Anniversary of the Manchurian Incident: Could It Be a Toyota Deathwatch in China?

IJA Tank in Manchuria

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the international news front lately, perhaps being preoccupied with what’s going on with the American Presidential election, there’s been some rumblings about a Japanese backlash in China. More specifically, a number of increasing protests concerning the anniversary of the Manchurian Incident, when Japanese forces invaded China some 81 years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNoCfhHNDn4

What has transpired since then? Well, automakers such as Mazda, Nissan, and Honda have suspended production of cars that are sold domestically (in China). I will say that this was in response to the territorial dispute between the two countries, but the Manchurian Incident certainly didn’t help matters much. Here are some other highlights:

Honda has suspended production for two days, mostly because dealers are unable to receive shipment…due to the protests.

Many Japanese dealerships are being vandalised, with reports coming in stating that a Honda Civic was set on fire. Ouch.

Many are also predicting that the market share held by the Japanese will tumble significantly this year, which will greatly benefit the major foreign players such as GM and Volkwagen, as well as emerging automakers such as Ford, Volvo, and Lincoln (ironically, Volvo and Lincoln used to be under the same umbrella under the Ford Motor Company, which was known as the Premier Automotive Group).

What does this all mean for Toyota? Well, in addition to the vandalised dealerships and the decreased market share (Japanese companies have historically struggle to gain any traction in China), now there are numerous reports that Toyota owners are swapping the Toyota badges for local automaker BYD, in hopes to foil would-be vandalisers, and/or simply leaving them at home. Moreover, there have been reports of fire damage to some of Toyota’s production facilities. Over time, this could sway potential patriotic buyers from considering the purchase of any Japanese vehicle, let alone one from Toyota…which was already falling behind with keeping up with consumer demands.

So, with that being said, could there be a potential deathwatch for Toyota, similar to one that I started a few years ago on Facebook (due to the numerous recalls)? Stay tuned…this could get really interesting…

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