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With the April 15 tax deadline just a few months away, our US readers will be faced with a decision should they get a refund: save or spend? It seems this issue is one many of us face whenever there's a windfall, trying to decide whether we should set the money aside in an account of some sort or use it as a down payment on a new car or a trip to the Apple store. Unsurprisingly, major corporations face a similar, albeit more complex, issue.

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Toyota isn't just the world's largest automaker – so far its the biggest winner for quarterly profits. With an enormous $5.5 billion take during Q2, Toyota took advantage of the weak Japanese yen and strong US demand to record a 94-percent improvement in profit over the same period from last year. So far, Toyota brought in larger profits than Ford and General Motors combined.

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Automotive News reports Mazda is set to turn a profit for the first time in five years. The automaker is more dependent on exports from Japan than other automakers based in that country, and as a result, it has long suffered at the hands of a strong yen. But the currency has declined in value by some 16 percent over the past six months and Mazda's shares have tripled in value to their highest level since 2008. Contrast this situation to a year ago when Mazda printed 1.22 billion new shares to ra

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Shinzo Abe was sworn in as Japan's new prime minister – its seventh in six years – barely a week ago. To count him as the seventh PM is a bit disingenuous, in fact, since he was the prime minister in 2006 and 2007 but had to retire due to medical issues. His return came after a campaign that stressed repairing the nation's economic issues – a platform that should give you an idea of the issues Japan has had at the top step of its government. Chief among the nation's woes? An ec

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The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.

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Toyota has already made it abundantly clear the company intends to scale back production in Japan in an attempt to combat the ever-strengthening Yen, and now it looks as if we know one of the ways the automaker plans to do so. Toyota has announced it will manufacture U.S. and Canadian-spec Yaris models in its Onnaing-Valenciennes facility in France. The plant has been producing the Yaris hatchback for European buyers since 2001, though this marks the first time in Toyota history that the automak

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Toyota has already made it abundantly clear the company intends to scale back production in Japan in an attempt to combat the ever-strengthening Yen, and now it looks as if we know one of the ways the automaker plans to do so. Toyota has announced it will manufacture U.S. and Canadian-spec Yaris models in its Onnaing-Valenciennes facility in France. The plant has been producing the Yaris hatchback for European buyers since 2001, though this marks the first time in Toyota history that the automak

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No surprise here. Both Nissan and Toyota have moved to cut production in Japan, according to Reuters.

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The strength of the Yen is forcing many Japanese automakers to consider building cars for export markets outside their home country. Honda is no different, and has confirmed that it will build the Fit hatchback at its new plant in Mexico starting in the spring of 2014.

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Being a global automaker means having to deal with the rising and falling tides of currency. The climate is particularly difficult in Japan, where the yen is valued at record levels compared to the American dollar. Since a giant chunk of Japanese automotive exports are shipped off to America, that means greatly diminished profits.

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For years, Detroit automakers would argue that the Japanese yen was artificially devalued, and that the value of the currency was a big competitive advantage to the likes of Toyota and Honda. To erase this gap, The Detroit Three pressured suppliers to lower costs in any way possible, which caused ill-will within their supply bases. In fact, Japanese automakers routinely scored higher in supplier relation studies, while General Motors, Ford and Chrysler hovered at the bottom of the list.

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The Yen is soaring, and that means it's costing Japanese manufacturers a lot of money to sell goods here in the United States. Some are moving areas of production to other countries, yet Toyota has decided to open its first new Japanese manufacturing facility in nearly 20 years.

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The Yen is soaring, and that means it's costing Japanese manufacturers a lot of money to sell goods here in the United States. Some are moving areas of production to other countries, yet Toyota has decided to open its first new Japanese manufacturing facility in nearly 20 years.

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Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, has stated that the Japanese automaker is planning to revise its earnings forecast due to the fact that the Yen has reached a 15-year high. The full-year profit forecast was based on a rate of 90 Yen to the US Dollar. It will be reduced to around 80 Yen to USD. The Yen has risen 15 percent against the USD and 13 percent against the Euro, which is not good for a company that has to repatriate earnings from its overseas sales.

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Toyota President Akio Toyoda caused something of an uproar in the automaker's home market of Japan when he suggested that "logically, it doesn't make sense to manufacture in Japan." Why? The surging value of the Yen, currently at a 15-year high, compared to the U.S. Dollar.

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2010 Toyota Yaris – Click above for high-res image gallery

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One of France's most prestigious newspapers, Le Monde, has published a very interesting article about the real impact and the future of green cars regarding Japanese automakers. Basically, the idea is that automakers are asking (and getting) help to develop green technologies. It quotes Carlos Ghosn's concerns about hybrid cars really catching on, where he states that hybrids might only be a niche market, while remaining "skeptical about the commercial potential of these technologies." The truth

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