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According to the local newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japanese government wants to ban the export of cars with engines larger than 1.9 litres (petrol and diesel). The same applies to all hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. In addition, the export suspension will also affect new and used Japanese cars, with Russia already leading the world in importing Japanese cars due to changes in the domestic market.
The Japanese government is expected to approve the new export ban as early as this month, with it taking effect in August.
The Yomiuri Shimbun noted that the widening of restrictions coincides with the rhetoric of the United States and the European Union. Thus, in May this year, the US banned the export of any passenger cars to Russia, while the EU extended the ban to cars with engines of 1.9 litres and above in June this year.
According to Japan's Ministry of Finance, used cars account for a quarter of total exports in 2022. Russia is a leading buyer of used cars. The Japan Used Car Exporters Association estimates that Japan imported about 210,000 used cars during the year, a 30 per cent increase over 2021, according to the Association of Used Car Exporters. As a result, Russia largely surpassed the UAE and New Zealand.
So rapid were the imports of used cars that Japan's car exports to Russia increased by almost 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2023. This is despite the fact that Japan does not officially supply cars to the Russian market. The purpose of the new ban may be to minimise the impact on the Russian market.