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Japan auto sales drop 22% in April-Sept. amid coronavirus

Foreign-bound passenger cars are lined up at a distribution center in Kawasaki near Tokyo on Aug. 17, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Auto sales in Japan dropped 22.6 percent from a year earlier to 2.02 million vehicles in the fiscal first half, the sharpest fall in nine years, hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, industry body data showed Thursday.

    The virus outbreak took a toll on production and customer visits to showrooms in the April-September period, as it disrupted supply chains and prompted the government's request for people to stay at home.

    The drop was the largest since April-September 2011 when sales tumbled 23.7 percent after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan.

    In the six months that ended Sept. 30, sales of vehicles excluding minicars with an engine displacement of no more than 660 cc slid 23.7 percent to 1.26 million vehicles, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

    It was the third-steepest decline for a fiscal first half since the 26.9 percent fall in the six-month period of 1974 due to the oil crisis and the 25.6 percent decline in that of 2011, the association said.

    Sales of minivehicles sagged 20.7 percent to 762,860 units, the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association said.

    In September alone, overall auto sales were down 14.3 percent from the same month last year at 469,705 in the 12th straight monthly decline following a 16.0 percent fall in August.

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