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The U.S. Car Allowance Rebate System (a.k.a. 'cash-for-clunkers') program was a short-term boon for automakers participating in our market. Sales went up, inventory went down and nearly 700,000 vehicles that would likely have otherwise ended up on used car lots were destroyed. And since the U.S. is essentially a free market where automakers around the globe are allowed to participate, Japanese and European automakers benefited from the program as well. In fact, Japanese automakers fared even better than their U.S. competitors, as Toyota, Honda and Nissan are said to have surpassed their market share with the program. A reported 319,000 of the 677,000 vehicles sold via cash-for-clunkers were from Japanese companies. But while the U.S. C4C program took place in a free market where everybody is able to participate, critics are complaining that the new Japanese program is anything but equal opportunity.

Japan is considered by many to be the world's most insular auto market, and its $3.7 billion government clunker program makes U.S. autos ineligible for government assistance. According to The Detroit News, the program, which the Japanese government is using to spur sales (which are down 17 percent versus 2008 levels), provides cash rebates of up to $2,830 for customers who turn in vehicles 13 years or older. Car buyers who don't turn in a vehicle can still get over $1,100 toward the purchase of a new vehicle. An estimated 87 percent of all Japanese vehicles are eligible for the program, while zero vehicles from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will be eligible.

The DetNews is reporting that Motown automakers have written a letter to the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative calling for action on a matter that was called "another example of Japan continuing efforts to discriminate against imported vehicles." Carol Guthry of the U.S. Trade Representative told the newspaper that the government is working to resolve the issue, adding "our position remains that changes are necessary to give U.S. vehicles greater opportunity to qualify under Japan's program."

While we're not exactly import/export experts and we don't have any experience with foreign relations, we're thinking it's about time Japan treated foreign automakers in the Land of the Rising Sun with the same level of equality that its automakers receive elsewhere in the world. What do you think? Have your say in 'Comments.'

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Obviously you didn't live there long enough.

      Let's not stray away from discussions about cars, shall we? The fact is, companies out for profit will do what they can to protect their margin. If that means co-opting the government, they'll do it. If that means asking for handouts, why not? And if the government is against them, then it's hiring lobbyists and complaining bitterly that it's anti-American. This notion of protectionist nationalism is just a smokescreen to cover the cash payments.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's not pretend that the tire issue is because of a lack of innovation or mismanagement.

      The cost of living in china and other nations is far less than in the US and even paying minimum wage it can be difficult for a first world manufacturer to compete with foreign prices without taking a hit.

      American consumers tend to buy products based on two factors.

      Tires and corn don't carry brand loyalty or any sort of prestige to keep people buying them so price is the sole determining factor(assuming the cheaper product isn't vastly inferior). It's something a lot of consumers are guilty of and then we cry out when the "evil corporations" move their production out of country.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Tires and corn don't carry brand loyalty or any sort of prestige to keep people buying them so price is the sole determining factor(assuming the cheaper product isn't vastly inferior). It's something a lot of consumers are guilty of and then we cry out when the "evil corporations" move their production out of country."

        x2. A very good point. You can't want a high standard of living without higher pay. And higher pay means goods cost more.
      • 5 Years Ago

      you are a nutjob, charlatan, sycophant. I can't argue with you anymore I got stuff to do, and I don't get paid for this like you. so let this be my final post, on this thread.

      you contradict yourself in every other post.
      than you criticize my punctuation on a internet post, when your posts are riddled with mistakes. i mean really, how old are you?

      you are the autoblog commenter equivalent of a fanatical suicide bomber.

      even worse, you are like that annoying religious guy on the train during the morning commute that can't stop talking about how great god is and how anyone who doesn't believe in him is going to hell, except for you god is japan.

      purchase from japan because it is mutually beneficial, how so? how many american goods make it into japan vs. how many japanese goods make it into the US? what's that? no answer? japan imports plenty of european luxury goods? and how is that beneficial to america? still no answer?

      you cite america's trillion dollar debt to china, guess what buddy, maybe if we weren't fighting 20 different wars, we wouldn't be in half the debt we are. maybe if wall st didn't royally screw the entire WORLD, we wouldn't be in a global recession?
      if you're so worried about the national debt, than you should be petitioning for the end of the wars in the middle east, or stricter regulations for wall st?

      than you go off topic by blaming china.
      you go around hurling insults at anyone that disagrees with you, than you go preaching human rights and open mindedness towards japan, that japan is your friend, china is your enemy.
      you go off about how china and walmart are the root of the worlds evils.
      you sound like the mustached german who commissioned the holocaust when he was trying to convince the germans of how evil the jewish were.

      than you cite various defective goods from china, which literally produces thousands of products. you expect a country like china, who, as you said is going through its industrial revolution right now.

      i wonder how good the safety regulations of other countries were when they were going through their industrial revolutions?

      care to cite those stats?

      what's next? china invented aids? china assassinated lincoln? china assassinated various leaders throughout south america? oh my mistake that was....

      and yes, i do believe you are a japanese/toyota troll, on toyota's payroll. i am accusing you of lying, because believe it or not, people have been known to lie while posting anonymously on the internet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I almost pissed my pants laughing at that!

        Yes, I'll stay far from members of your self-congratulatory little club of junk-car owners.

        I've known a few WW2 vet's and my step grandfather happens to be a Camry driving WW2 Colonel. They don't whine about the war as much as you do.

        I never said that Japan outsourcing to sweatshop countries was a good thing. I'm talking about products Made IN Japan! Apparently you can't read that well. I despise the fact that Japanese companies have outsourced to foreign countries, with the exception of them making cars in the USA for US consumption. At least that gives people in the US jobs.

        And what do I do for Darfur?

        I avoid buying products from China whenever possible. That's the best thing you could do for them, short of staging a military coup to overthrow their government, or military sanctions against the Chinese to stop them from giving weapons to the Sudanese government. I'm all for both of those too, by the way! Free Tibet and liberate Darfur!

        I don't go shopping at Wal Mart and buy a bunch of sweatshop goods, and then donate to charities to appease my guilty conscience! That's hypocritical. And learn how to spell, yourself, before you go spacing words in such a condecending fashion.

        Also, I'm not defending the Japanese trade imbalance. The US should do better to protect ITSELF from their trade practices, but we don't. I'm simply stating the fact that Japan is the least of our worries. China is the biggest problem facing the world, not just the USA.

        And where do I trash everything Made in the USA? I go out of my way to buy things made in the USA!

        My NB993 shoes are made here, much of what's in my house is made here, the Herman Miller chair I'm sitting in was made in the USA, all of the consumables I use like paper products and shampoo is made in the USA, tires, furniture, everything I can find that's made here, I buy! I tell everyone to buy American made products. Most of the food I eat is produced in the USA as well, organically.

        Cars are the EXCEPTION to my buying practice! I don't buy American cars, because GM, Chrysler and Ford have been very un-American for a long time.

        Do you do the same thing? Do you obsess over country of origin to the point of doing without things that can't be sourced from countries that aren't our enemies, as I do? (and don't say I'm fraternizing with the enemy, because in reality Japan is no longer our enemy.)

        My patriotism is to the ideals that America was founded upon. You're content with a mediocre, watered down, Wal-Mart-ed version of it, and I'm simply not. You pretend that by driving a car made by one of the most sell-out anti-American companies in existence, that you're a "patriot", and you bring my ethics into question? LOL You're hypocricy is hilarious!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Reading comprehension was'nt your best subject, was it? I refered to WWII survivors in the present tense. Let me say that slowly. C u r r e n t h i s t o r y. To this day the Japanese have never acknowledge the atrocities, slavery, butchery, rape and have never rendered an apology. We apologized for the internment camps and gave financial restitution yet not one in the internment camps were beaten or tortured or slaughtered. Big difference. Take a trip to a vets hospital and sit and chat with one of those survivors and get their story. Make sure you bring a box of tissue unless you have no heart.

        I'm well aware of the plight of American Indians and I've worked several Habitat for Humanity programs, twice volunteering one of my crews at Pine Ridge, paid in full by me. What have you done for them besides talk and use them to satisfy your silly arguments?

        Japan is one of the most racist countries on earth. How do I know? Been there. I still have friends in Okinawa and Yakasuka that will echo everything I've said. And Darfur? What exactly is it that Japan has done for them? And what have you done for them?

        Granted, sweatshops are a terrible thing for any country and that will include Japan. Ever hear of the sweatshops in Indonesia, Tiawan, Micronesia, and lets not forget the Phillipines owned and operated by several Japanese electronics companies? But it's PC to condemn China and overlook your precious land of the rising sun.

        I did'nt miss anything. Yes, Japan is a better trading partner than China but it does'nt change the FACT that Japan is a protectionist country that not only severly restricts trade with America, but the entire free world as well. The simple fact that if by chance the Japanese public wants a product that is'nt made in Japan they can import it with tarriffs only until the time comes when Japan can make it themselves.

        And no, it does'nt piss me off to see Japan or ANY other country to succeed and prosper. It does piss me off when they do it at the expense of MY country. And you, buddy, are part and parcel a big part of that problem. Couldyou possibility be so stupid that you don't understand the trade imbalance or you're defending it because it benefits you.

        There is'nt a thread that gets missed where you don't try to trash anything made in America but you refuse to answer the accusations of diminishing quality and rampant recalls, theft of intelectual property (Prius), years of failure in acknowledging severe problems (sludge, rust, tie rods, seat belts, and sudden acceleration), dumping, and in conjunction with the Japanese government, monetary fixing by your beloved Toyolex bretheren. Your only response is "Yeah, but Americans build junk". Truly sophomoric. You still have'nt responded to Buicks and Cadillacs besting Lexus in initial and long term quality, or that Toyota is failing to even make the nominating lists in recent awards.

        So we're left with two possible scenerios here.
        A. You are a toyota or Lexus sales person of which would explain your arrogance, or
        B. You are one of, if not the most ignorant, self centered, self absorbed, hyprocritical morons to ever grace Autoblog.

        As a dues paying member in good standing of the Cadillac Lasalle Club of America I have this simple message for you. Stick with your Lexus. The members of the club, the Cadillac division of General Motors and I would be very upset knowing trash like you would be within fifty feet of one of our cars.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Matthew, You're a joke. Sad part is that no one is laughing with you, they're laughing at you. You can bring up the dark ages all you want. I'm talking about living history in which some of the people that suffered under the Imperial Japanese empire are still living. Read their stories.
        My focus is the unfair trade policies of today's Japan and China. I lived in Okinawa for two years and have been back there on a few occasions on business and I have first hand knowledge of how it works. Any chances of succesfully doing business is thwarted by any means possible by every form of government. The sad part is the work I was bidding on was on US military installations, accepted by the US Navy and rejected by Japanese officials.
        If you truly believe Japan is our EQUAL trading partner, you must live in a bubble or you're just plain stupid. Look it up dummy, learn a thing or two.
        Calling my Caddy's a "POS" is, well, humorous to say the least. My daughter still drives an 03 with well over 200K flawless miles that I gave her for her commute to college. I've (my wife) had one Lexus, the piece of garbage she leased before her current 08 CTS, and I drive an 05 CTS-V. All tolled, I've had six Caddy's in the past twelve years and all have been absolutely trouble free. The Lexus has been in the shop fourteen separate times, however, the carfax on it mysteriously is missing two of the top six major problems.
        So let's make a bet. I'll get the carfax's on my six Caddy's, past and current and you get the carfax's on your four family Lexus and whomever has the most reports of repair and problems not caused by the driver, promise to leave autoblog forever.
        Can you man up?

        • 5 Years Ago
        You keep talking about the Native Americans, who did get shafted royally. What about the tens of thousands of innocent Japanese who got nuked? They dropped the bombs on cities filled with civilians because they knew the Japanese wouldn't give up easily.

        Wall St. didn't screw the world. The corrupt politicians who allowed such corporate greed to flourish, and who enact trade with our real enemies like China are who screwed it.

        Keep saying that China makes such great products, as people die from using their poisoned goods, but they really don't make anything worth buying. They only help greedy CEO's line their pockets by shipping us lead-filled childrens toys and iPhones.

        You stand for everything that's made America weak and pathetic J.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Caddy You're saying that the past doesn't count, and then simultaneously contradicting yourself by saying that WW2 survivors' hardships should be considered? How does that work?

        Do you think that the Native Americans aren't still around? Do you think they're not still suffering? Pretty much every culture is ethically tainted by religious warfare or totalitarian regimes coming into power at some point.

        The thing is, Japan isn't doing that NOW. China IS currently commiting environmental and humanitarian atrocities from Tibetan monks being slaughtered to sweatshops to Darfur!

        You totally missed the whole point of the comparison. Japan is a better trade partner than China, for a myriad of reasons. The foremost being, that Japan has no offensive military capability, and no desire to militarily attack and take over the US at the present time. China does have said capability, and the fact that they own our economy(Japan doesn't) gives them motive to take us over when we can't pay the trillions we owe them.

        You want the Japanese to be as stupid as we are economically. That's all it is, plain and simple. It pisses you off to see them succeed while our country flushes itself down the toilet. Instead of wanting to be successful too, you just want them to fail like us. Typical looter mentality of second-hander.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL I think it's hilarious that you think I'm ethnic Japanese and that I work for Toyota. Wrong on both counts. I was born right here in Florida.

        I never said that what the Japanese or Americans did in the past was all sunshine and rainbows. I avoid buying things made in China when at all possible, and a few years back, when I learned about what was being done by them, I threw thousands of dollars worth of Made in China goods right into the trash! How's that being a hypocrite?!

        I've campaigned locally to get people to buy Made in USA goods, and buy everything I can, from the food I eat to the Shoes I wear in the USA. I also buy from countries like Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

        Most everything that I purchase is made in the USA, from shoes and socks, to every consumable product I need, to food that's mostly USDA organically farmed too. I make sure to check labels. You'd see mostly "Made in USA" in my house. Some Made in Italy and France. My cars and my tea are among the few things I own that are actually Made in Japan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @Sea Urchin:

      Apple have released iphone in korean market via KT, biggest telco in korea, and have been selling pretty well. In fact the reception of the iphone in korean market have been much more receptive than Japan and China.
      • 5 Years Ago
      On the other hand, it would be totally gangsta to rock a giant-sized, black Dodge Challenger in Tokyo... scaring little children along the way. America F Yeah!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Where is gerrrg with his heart full of love for Japan? :D :D :D
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is totally unsurprising. Our "free marketers" want to open our borders up and complain when other countries protect their markets.

      I for one think we need to put labor and environmental tariffs on all imports to compensate US-based manufacturers for our stricter labor and environmental laws. It's only fair.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Free trade has not driven our wages lower and has not cost us a net loss of jobs.

        The consumer should not suffer higher prices and reduced choice so that a few people can have their jobs protected. How many here want to work in a sweat shop producing plastic novely dog poo?

        If our gub'ment needs to do anything it is reduce the corporate income tax so that companies could actually work here and be competitive in the global market place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        With that said, business is the biggest enemy of the free market, because business can skew people like you into believing that YOU GOTTA BUY AMARIIIKKUUNNNNNN, then makes you believe that protectionism is good for your fellow men... Well sure, it's going to be good for the union worker but you, as a consumer, you'll end up losing a whole more lot - and by losing a whole more lot you won't be able to support other jobs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The whole concept of outsourcing labor to cheap-labor countries is unethical. It creates an economic bubble that eventually has to pop.

        Import/export isn't bad for countries, as long as you're trades are mutually beneficial.

        There's nothing mutually beneficial about outsourcing. Industry is production. If you lose production and go to a service industry based economy, where people have fictional jobs and just push paper around and trade debt, you get the USA we've got today.

        You're not preaching freedom by saying that outsourcing is a good thing, when clearly, it's not. We don't need any bigger study than the current state of the US economy to prove it.

        We're in debt to who? The Chinese mostly. Why? They produce goods, and have the money to buy our debt(bonds).

        They own us, and when they decide they want to cash in their bonds, you know what that means. The repo men will come, but instead of a truck, it'll be tanks and nukes that they use to take what they've rightfully purchased, thanks to the idiots who shop at Wal Mart and want nothing but the illusion of wealth, when they live month-to-month on credit cards.

        Outsourcing sure helped us out there, didn't it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Fascist non-sense?

        I preach freedom, what the hell is wrong with you?
        • 5 Years Ago
        That feels good, but in the end it is only the consumer who is harmed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Protectionism only works to a point. Your example of keeping jobs in the US and paying all our labors high wages has one major issue, inflation. If you produce more and more products in the US and keep out lower priced imports the costs of good rise because selling prices have to be higher to support higher wages paid to laborers. Then you are paid more, but everything is more expensive. So to feel richer you need to make more money, which raises prices even more to compensate for everybody's need to feel richer. Long story short, not everybody can live like a king and nobody in the US seems to want a low standard of living so those jobs went else where. In the early 1900s everybody wasn't keeping up with the Jones and the same degree of rampant consumerism didn't exist. The US labor market and domestic manufacturing for the most part died when it was no longer OK to be a poor lower class worker.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agree, but labor markets in USA are too stringent. Solis, Secretary of Labor is about to make it much easier to unionize, she wants to empower unions even more and that is not even including the card check law.

        We need to make it illegal to unionize in federal and local government sector.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's been studies proving Luis wrong; every company that outsources jobs (unless it's to escape reckless national fiscal policies) hires more people in return, but in different fields. The belief that free trade creates a race to the bottom is flawed and baseless. It's against the interest of companies and business in general to kill their markets (that's the job of governments).

        Protectionism will only get you so far.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because driving our wages lower and jobs overseas doesn't harm our citizens? I'm more concerned about my countrymen having high-paying jobs and benefits than consumers having the absolute lowest price.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If I recall it's from CATO - regardless, there hasn't been a study proving YOUR point, it's just conventional wisdom to think that capitalism is a zero sum game and that if someone wins, someone has to lose.

        I know plenty of people who are or were affected by free trade related layoffs anyhow - they always end up in better paying jobs with better conditions - the downside is that they lost their 'benefits', but I think having stuff like health insurance attached to your job is dumb anyhow (the moment the job goes, so do your benefits). The people in question include my step-father.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the fact is why would any business want to pay people more money to produce something that they can pay other people way less to and receive more or less the same quality.

        what people need to do is shed their sense of entitlement, quit whining and step up their game, especially considering the US is a country of immigrants which makes that sense of entitlement even more ridiculous.

        anyway, like DanDaMan said, even if Detroit cars were allowed in the program it doesn't mean they would sell. considering how many Americans don't even want to "buy American" what makes anyone think the Japanese do?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Once again, Luis is 100 % correct.
      • 5 Years Ago
      American cars hardly sell in Japan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Sea Urchin,

      Your claim on the iPhone sale in South Korea is absolutely INCORRECT. Apple started selling their iPhone in Korea a couple of weeks ago and consumers were lined up before stores opened to get their hands on one. Korea is a free trade market, as well. It is unfair to call it unfair just because their market strategies and regulations are different from those of the U.S. and you do not understand them or are not familiar with them or just because you somehow think they are unfair.

      I disagree with your statement that we should scale back on trade with certain countries. The U.S. is an open market but we still have limitations on imported goods. So until we are 100% open and free, you cannot claim others unfair.

      The U.S. market is saturated with imported goods varying from small itmes such as toys and textiles to big ticket items such as electronics and automobiles. To reduce trade without a legitimate reason (and I don't see yours as one) it only brings harm to U.S. consumers from being able to enjoy quality goods at competitive prices.

      Instead, we should work harder on making the American goods more competitive. This is the only way to advance and develop and make ourselves more competitive against goods from other markets. It would be counterproductive to the health of our economy to simply resort to restricting importation.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why is everyonr getting upset with Japan?? they are doing what we as Americans should do not allow imports to qualify for OUR Government programs!! we should be upset with our government for not having the foresight to disqualify imports!! I wish our government would have used tarp money to help the citizens and not the leechs in Corporate America
      • 5 Years Ago
      The US doesn't have a free market.. it's a very thinly veiled illusion, so why are people surprised that the Japanese. who have been suffering an economic downturn for years, are trying to protect their second most important industry.

      On a side note, I wish people learnt some basic economics before they bothered to waste their time commenting on certaiin topics. There's a reason why everything is made in China these days, product development cycle, the cost of manufacturing is too high in western countries so everything eventually gets produced in LEDCs, it's upto the industrialised countries to keep innovating to counteract this.. pretty simple.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We seriously need to do what South Korea does and slap a 25% tariff rate on vehicles *specifically* imported from Japan... Japan is screwing with our automotive industries with ridiculous tariff rate and ridiculous legal requirements (and the Koreans/Germans) Add that with not letting us have a fair competition in their own market by domestic favored policy; It's only fair that we do the same.
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