A bleak 2009 is foreseen by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Assn., as it predicts “the harsh economic climate prevailing in late 2008 will continue.” JAMA’s annual look-ahead estimates Japan’s combined sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in 2008 tumbled 4.5% to 5.11 million units, the lowest level since 1980, and will drop another 4.9% in 2009 to 4.86 million. What went wrong? The short answer can be summed up in two words – almost everything. JAMA cites Japan’s ...

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