Japan’s new-vehicle market has been suffering from a case of arrested development for years, and there’s no apparent cure in sight. From 64,530 new-vehicle registrations in 1950, domestic sales surged to a postwar peak of 7,777,393 units in 1990. That was just before the country’s economic bubble collapsed, producing an 8-year slump ending in 1998 that saw sales plunge 24% to 5.8 million units, where they continue to hover today. The hard reality is significant sales growth has ended in ...

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