Nikkei. According to the latest data, the number of vehicles owned in Japan, including minicars and motorcycles, totaled 79.43 million as of 29 Feb, down 0.2% for the year. The figure also fell for December and January. Comparable data has been available only since 1963, but this is likely the first three-month drop since World War II.
The number of vehicles in Japan has started declining, a trend that will not only have an impact on related businesses, such as insurers, repair shops and gas stations, but also affect the nation’s road-building policy.
The number of vehicles owned as of Feb. 29 fell in 30 prefectures, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, while rising in 17 prefectures, including Aichi, Saitama and Chiba. The steepest fall, 1.7%, occurred for vehicles with engines of more than 660 cc, which include cargo and passenger vehicles. Minicar ownership, however, rose 2.8%. New-vehicle sales peaked at 7.77 million units in 1990, and 2007 sales were 30% off that record.
While the downtrend may be good news for the environment because it will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the nation’s road-building policy may need to be revamped. The current plan to spend 59 trillion yen over 10 years is based on the assumption that vehicle traffic volume will peak in 2020.