Japanese carmakers are readying themselves for a possible consumer backlash in China after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes war dead during the birthday of Mao Zedong. Nissan Motor Co. said it was "closely monitoring" developments in Japan-China relations after Abe's visit. China condemned Abe’s visit at that shrine, which honors the war dead including 14 World War II leaders who were convicted as Class A war criminals. The visit also coincided with the 120th birthday of Mao, who is considered as the founder of the communist nation. "As a company we have no means to intervene in politics," Huo Jing, a spokeswoman for Nissan in Beijing, told Bloomberg, adding that all they can do is to be better at their job.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. posted declines in sales in 2012, following a breakout of a territorial dispute between Japan and China. "We're still at a stage where we need to carefully monitor the impact, but it's obvious that this only has a negative impact on Japan," Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co., told Bloomberg.
He remarked that the visit poses some geopolitical risks. Cui Dongshu, deputy secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association in Shanghai, said that the timing of the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine sends a very dangerous signal as it will deter buyers who worry about the safety of their vehicles and themselves.