Open Prejudice Shows Depth of Toyota’s Slump in China
Honda Motor Co. employees in the Chinese city of Wuhan need only visit the popular Feng Bo Zhuang restaurant to see the resentment their company faces. A sign at the door says Japanese are barred from entering.A sign suggesting no entry for “Japanese” is seen on a notice board posted outside Feng Bo Zhuang diner in Wuhan, Hubei province on April 22, 2013. Photographer: Ma Jie/Bloomberg
Discrimination against Japanese is common in China, according to Yasuhide Mizuno, the head of Honda’s venture in Wuhan, some 500 miles (800 kilometers) up the Yangtze River from Shanghai. Mizuno — who has also been assigned to Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia — says he’s never worked in a more hostile place.
“Wherever I go, like department stores or in taxis, people ask me whether I am Japanese,” Mizuno, 49, president of Dongfeng Honda (GHAJCZ), said in an interview at the Shanghai auto show. When he says yes, he said, the reception can be frosty.
Mizuno’s experiences in the city, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930s, illustrate why sales for Honda and Toyota Motor Corp (7203). have yet to recover since violent protests across China seven months ago. Though the riots — triggered by a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands — have subsided, Japanese carmakers are continuing to lose share in the world’s biggest auto market.