Japan Automobile Importers Association

Japan Automobile Importers Association

Japan Automobile Importers Association (JAIA)


Tokyo, Japan
Kintaro Ueno


Japan Automobile Importers Association (JAIA) was established in 1965 when automobile import was liberalized in Japan, as a public corporation under the Export-Import Trade Law. JAIA's activities aim at the healthy development of the automobile importing trade by maintaining orderly import-export trade and operating to better serve for JAIA members’ common interests.


Japan Automobile Importers Association

  • 5th Floor, Shiba Boat Building, 3-1-15, Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0014 Japan

  • +81-3-5765-6811

  • +81-3-5765-6847



  • Survey conditions in Japan and overseas related to the import of foreign automobiles.

  • Compile statistics on automobile import.

  • Gather information on the import of foreign automobiles and provide the information to members.

  • Joint sponsoring of shows/exhibitions and other promotional activities related to the import of foreign automobiles.

  • Improve the price and trade conditions of imported automobiles.

  • Cooperate and contact with government agencies on matters related to the import of foreign automobiles.

  • Promote the healthy development of JAIA members.


Speech by Chairman Kintaro Ueno:

First and foremost, on behalf of JAIA, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families of the Earthquake in Osaka-Fu Hokubu on June 18 and 2018 Western Japan Downpours and Flooding, as well as our sincere sympathy for everyone of the regions hit by the disaster.
I was appointed as the twelfth chairman of JAIA in May this year, and I will be acting in that position for the coming two years. In my case, I am serving as the JAIA chairman for the second time after four years. Since then, the situations surrounding the automobile industries of the world, have been drastically changing.

While addressing such global changes, JAIA will intensify its efforts to contribute to developing internationally harmonized business conditions for global auto industry including the international harmonization of regulations in order to allow its member companies to provide the Japanese customers with their valuable automobiles and motorcycles equipped with leading-edge technologies without delay. In addition, JAIA will work on those issues to be tackled through the concerted efforts with Japanese automobile industry, – including reductions in the excessive tax burdens on users – on behalf of the imported vehicle industry, and convey the voice of customers to the government and other relevant organizations in a convincing manner.


Resumption of Imported Automobile Sales:

After World War II, automobile import resumed in 1948 under the foreign currency allocation system. However, at that time, because only automobiles for special uses such as ambulances, and vehicles for the media and tourists were allowed to be imported, most of foreign automobiles on street then were those disposed of by the American military.

Furthermore, to accelerate the economic recovery, the government stipulated that only vehicles manufactured in Japan could be procured for official use. The emphasis was on promoting export while restricting import. As a result, imported automobile owners were virtually limited to a small number of wealthy and privileged people.


Imported Automobile Market Shaken by Boom and Bust:

With elimination of the foreign currency allocation system in October 1965, finished car import was liberalized and the imported automobile market began to expand. Imported automobile sales since 1966 increased from the level of 10,000 units(which had been maintained since 1964)to 20,000 in 1972 and then to 30,000 in the following year. Despite the impact of the first oil crisis, the sales reached 40,000 vehicles in 1975 and peaked temporarily at 60,000 in 1979.

Factors facilitating the imported automobile sales at that time included elimination of customs duties in 1978 and appreciation of the yen against foreign currencies. However, as a result of the second oil crisis, the economy suffered from a downturn in 1980, global concern grew about an energy shortage and the dollar appreciated sharply. These factors, combined with the product quality problems of the US-made automobiles, pushed the market back down to the 40,000-unit level.

American automobiles in particular suffered from severe setbacks–the demand fell to one-tenth of the peak. As a result, many importers withdrew from the market. From 1980, the downturn in imported automobile sales became chronic. For four consecutive years until 1984, sales were lower than the preceding year. The market hit the bottom in 1983 with sales shrinking to 35,286 vehicles.


Imported Automobile Market Facing New Challenges:

Under these circumstances, the friction caused by the international trade imbalance with the emphasis on the auto sector became serious again, and the need to increase import was further emphasized. During 1992 and 1993, the government embarked on a new program to support automobile import addressing the alleged discriminatory practices against imports and stepping up import-promoting measures.

In 1993, appreciation in the yen’s value resulted in lower imported automobile prices, and together with the promotion of imports, induced Japanese automobile makers to boost foreign production for import to Japanese. Also conducive to stronger sales were low-interest auto loans and other promotional campaigns as well as expanded sales networks, where more domestic dealers started to sell imported automobiles. All of these contributed to a recovery to year-on-year growth for the first time in three years.

Imported automobile sales accelerated further in 1994. The total sales of the year were higher than the previous peak in 1990 breaking the 300,000 unit milestone for the first time. In 1995, total sales rose to approximately 390,000 vehicles and the imported passenger car sales occupied an unprecedented market share of over 10 percent. The up-trend continued until 1996 when the total sales surpassed 400,000 units and hit a new record for three consecutive years.

From 1997, however, due to an increase in the consumption tax rate, the suspension of special income tax cuts, and financial uneasiness, consumer spending stayed stagnant. The import of automobiles produced overseas by Japanese makers was partially suspended, and higher prices for some imported vehicles stemmed from the weak yen standing on foreign exchange markets. For two consecutive years, sales were below the previous year’s results. The sales in 1999 slightly increased over 1998, but afterwards, the market has remained stable(270,000-280,000)until 2004.


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Courtesy: Japan Automobile Importers Association


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