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Toyota China Sales Decline Slows as Anti-Japan Boycotts Fade

Toyota Motor Corp.’s China sales fell by the least in three months as protests and boycotts of Japanese brands, triggered by a territorial dispute between the two countries, subsided.

Deliveries declined 22 percent in November from a year earlier to 63,800 vehicles, Asia’s largest automaker said in a text message today. Last month’s decline compares with the 49 percent drop in September and a 44 percent slump in October.

The automaker said last month sales in China were recovering. Deliveries in the first 11 months of the year fell 3.3 percent to 749,600 units, setting the automaker on course for its first annual decline in China sales on record.

“The drop in sales is smaller-than-expected, so it looks like recovery is on the way,” Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., said by phone today. “If the sales are positive again in December, we should be able to positively say that it’s rebounding.”

Annual Target

Toyota’s November China sales leave it 25 percent away from its previous annual target of 1 million units. Deliveries in the July-to-September period tumbled 23 percent, the biggest quarterly drop on record, according to company figures stretching back to 2002.

Japan’s automakers may suffer production cuts into 2014 and lose a combined 650,000 units in vehicle output if tensions don’t abate between the two countries, according to estimates by IHS Automotive.

Toyota fell 0.6 percent to 3,515 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo today, before the China sales were announced. The stock has gained 37 percent this year, compared with the 12 percent advance in the benchmark Nikkei 255 Stock Average.

Separately, Mazda Motor Corp. said sales fell 30 percent to 12,187 units last month, according to its website.

The decades-long territorial dispute, involving a group of islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, was reignited in April, when then-Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a longtime critic of China, proposed buying the territories. That led Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration to purchase the islets in September, escalating tensions between the two nations and sparking violent protests across China.

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