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Like everywhere else on the planet, new car sales are down in Japan (17 percent versus 2008 levels, to be exact). And, like a number of other countries, Japan has decided to spur automobile sales by creating a cash-for-clunkers-style program at a cost of $3.7 billion. Unlike similar programs from other countries, including the one that ended late last year in the U.S., Japan has drafted a set of rules that strongly favors its own automakers – in effect precluding American cars from qualify

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Japan's car sales are declining, just like they are in most countries. But unlike other markets, auto sales in Japan won't be recovering anytime soon. The sales outlook is so bleak, in fact, that the Japanese automakers even have a word for it: "kuruma banare," or "demotorization." While it may sound more like "kuruma bizarre" to us car-obsessed types, kids in Japan are much more interested in the latest electronic gadgetry than they are with cars, and many have no intention on ever owning an au