Amid a revival in sales of Japanese goods in China and talk of renewed investment from some big firms such as Toyota, a dusty industrial park near Nanjing offers a cold reality check on the health of ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Despite offering rent-free premises for the first three years to companies expanding to China, the Japan Automotive Parts Industrial Center (JAPIC), set up in Danyang, 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Shanghai, in 2011, remains near empty.
A visit to the Danyang park, the brainchild of former Toyota Motor executive Kazuo Azuma, challenges the view that Japan Inc’s engagement with China is slowly recovering from the shock of anti-Japanese protests that erupted two years ago.
“Do we see any ray of hope?” asks Azuma, who has spent more than 20 years in China, mostly building factories for Toyota. “To be honest, none at the moment. Japan’s full of risk-birds chirping, ‘China risk.'”
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