Car makers in Japan are preparing for a backlash in China after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pilgrimage to a shrine for his country's war-dead on Mao Zedong’s birthday.
Abe's visit to the memorial, which, among others, honors war criminals from World War II - when Japan invaded China - drew a sharp rebuke from the latter and comes amid rising tensions over sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea. A flare-up in that dispute last year led to a sharp fall in sales of Japanese cars in the Middle Kingdom.
Rivals such as Volkswagen (VLKAF) and GM (GM) could benefit from any drop in sales of Japanese vehicles, with the German company set to regain its crown as the largest foreign carmaker in China. VW and GM have sold over 3M cars each in the country.