Japan Auto Ties: Strong Prospects of Revival

Japan Auto Ties: Strong Prospects of Revival
Japan Auto Ties: Strong Prospects of Revival

A symposium was recently held in Japan on the potentials and prospects of Iran’s automobile industry. Some 100 people attended the meeting, looking for ways to expand cooperation and share technologies between the automotive sectors of the two countries.

Representatives from several Japanese automotive companies attended the one day event sponsored by the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo. Iranian business groups were also present at the event, Press TV reports.

The commercial attaché to Japan said talks have been held with Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi in the hope that Japanese technology could be transferred to Iran's auto sector. Hiroshi Maizaki, CEO of I.I Works, hoped that Japanese companies could enter the Iranian market and share their know-how.

"I am strongly interested in being at least part of the future of commercial relations between Iran and [Japan]. By undertaking joint ventures with Iran, Japan's economy can also reap the benefits of new cooperation.

Iran's Ambassador to Japan Reza Nazar-Ahari said, "Before the sanctions [which were placed on Iran by the international community], Iranians used to want to import completed [fully built] cars. After sanctions, we wish to import and absorb the investment to take know-how and technology."

Prior to the 1980s, Japan had a growing presence in the Iranian automotive sector, with brands such as Talbot and Datsun growing in popularity. Japanese cars are still considered reliable with limited breakdowns compared with other imports like Chinese vehicles.

Japan's sole office of their national airline, JAL, has been shuttered since the mid-1990s. The airline continues to own the building and the machinery inside is testament to the days when the two countries had large trade volumes. This was likely due, in part, to Japan's closure of a visa-waiver program that allowed Iranians entry to their country.  

Japan's foreign policy toward Iran has been directed toward its thirst for stable and reliable energy supplies, with Iran continuing to be Japan's third-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the Wharton School of Business in the US.

Trade between the two dipped significantly in recent years, though supplies of vehicles like Mitsubishi, Honda and Toyota continued even during the most stringent point of sanctions.

Trade balance between the two countries has historically been in favor of Iran, with cars being the major source of imports from the country. In 2010, Japan cooperated with Iran on several major projects" annual trade between the two states exceeded $11 billion at its height.