|The new Corolla Axio, as the 10th generation Corolla sedan launched in October 2006 - - The new Corolla models were the first since 2000.|
Since its debut in 1966, Toyota says "the Corolla, through an automobile production approach that has anticipated the demands of the times, has gained the favor of millions of users, playing a key role in driving motorization forward. The Corolla is currently sold in more than 140 countries and regions, and cumulative sales have exceeded 30 million vehicles, making it a best-selling vehicle positioned to lead the 21st century."
Japan's vehicle sales are forecast to fall for a fourth straight year to their lowest in 26 years, as falling wages and population make the fortunes of the country's car makers increasingly dependent on foreign markets.
Domestic sales of cars, minicars, trucks and buses may fall 1.25 to about 5.32 million vehicles in 2008 from 5.38 million in 2007, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in December. Passenger-car sales will fall 0.3% the group forecast.
In 2006, China overtook Japan as the world's second-biggest car market after the US. Japan's demand for vehicles peaked at 7.78 million in 1990.
Since 2001, Japanese car makers have increased their market share in China from about 15% to 25.7% in 2006. European car makers market share in China has fallen from 53.8% to 24.4% in the same period.
Japanese domestic vehicle sales excluding minicars, which are powered by engines no larger than 0.66 liters, increased in October and November but the monthly declines to September was the second-longest period after a 31-month drop that started in April 1997.
The 2006 sales total, excluding mincars, were the lowest since 3.56 million vehicles were sold in the year started April 1977.
Japan is the world's second biggest economy and the cost of living in its main cities are among the top in global rankings. It is joint sixth with the UK among the most expensive countries in the world (see below).
Wages in October 2007, were unchanged from a year earlier after declining in nine of the previous 10 months, Japan's labor ministry said.
While unemployment has fallen from 5.4% in 2002 to 4.1% at the end of 2006, wages have not moved. Statistics published by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare show that the average Japanese made $2,881 a month in 2002. For most of 2006, the average monthly wage was only $2,749.Japanese companies have kept wages in check in part by shifting more work to part-time employees, who now constitute over 33% of Japan's workforce, up from 20% in 1992 and 18% in 1987.
A Japanese Cabinet Office survey in early 2007, showed that people felt a high level of anxiety about their daily —the highest angst level recorded since the poll began nearly 40 years ago despite a recovery in the economy.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday Jan 04, 2008 that one reason Japan isn't growing faster than its current 1.5% annualized rate lies in a shift in hiring by companies like Hino Motors Ltd. The truck-making unit of Toyota Motor Corp. is paying record dividends this year. But it also has been filling thousands of factory jobs with a new kind of employee: temporary workers who are paid as little as 1,150 yen, or $10.50, an hour and get few benefits.
The Irish minimum hourly wage is €8.65 - $12.75.
According to a World Bank study that was published in December 2007, the most expensive economies are Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Ireland with indices ranging from 154 to 127. The United States ranked 20th in the world with a base index of 100, lower than most other high-income economies, including France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Ireland's index was 127 compared with Japan's 118.
"I always look for the cheapest meat to cook with, usually ground chicken or shreds of pork," says Ikkei Ikeda, 28 years old, who worked as a temp at Hino setting heavy metal discs onto machines for 2½ years before quitting in August. He also he rode his bike wherever he could to save train fare, because his monthly take-home pay averaged just 143,000 yen, or $1,300. In other words, though Ikeda was employed, he wasn't doing much to boost consumer demand.
The Journal says that in the past decade, average wages in Japan have fallen every year except two because of an increase in temps and stagnant wages for full-timers. Consumption by working families declined on a year-to-year basis in six out of the past eight quarters, even though the Japanese are also saving less. A Bank of Japan survey showed that some 23% of households had no savings last year, compared with just 10% in 1996.
At Toyota and its subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan, 110,000 people now work as temps or part-timers, according to the Federation of All Toyota Workers' Unions, which has 290,000 full-timers as members.
Among Japanese workers aged 25 to 34, about 26% are temps, compared with 14% a decade ago.
In the US, where only about 4% of the work force in 2005, were classified as temps in a US Labor Department survey, the gap between rich and poor has been growing wider since the 1970s. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the wealthiest 20% of households accounted for 45.4% of total US income in 1979, but claimed 53.5% in 2004.
Households in the bottom fifth dropped from 5.8 to 4.1% over the same period."Sometime in the 1970s, the market turned ferociously against the less skilled and the less educated," Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton University economist and the former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors told a hearing of the congressional Joint Economic Committee.
But that is not likely to change in the future, he said, as globalization and technological advances begin to trigger the same kind of upheaval in the service sector as has hit manufacturing.
In Japan, temps earn about two-thirds of what full-timers do, enjoy less benefits and can often be hired and fired with just a few days' notice. The temp phenomenon covers much more than the unskilled and the resultant stagnation of wages is keeping consumer spending down.
What would life be like there without the US and Chinese markets?
Toyota Dividend Policy - March 31, 2007 Statement
One of Toyota's key management policies is to prioritize returns to shareholders, and while improving and strengthening our corporate culture we are aggressively expanding our business in order to continue increasing earnings per share. With respect to the dividends, we are targeting a consolidated dividend payout ratio to 30% in the medium - to long term and a greater distribution of the earnings by taking into consideration various factors, including the business results for each fiscal year and new investment plans. In addition to responding to changes in the business conditions, we have also acquired our shares in order to increase improve capital efficiency.
Although we expect to see growth in the global auto market going forward, we will use our internal fund reserves for securing a stable operating base, as well as for up-front investments to improve our product strengths, develop next-generation technologies, deploy domestic and overseas production and sales infrastructure. Regarding the dividends for the last term, the interim dividend in November 2006 was 50 yen per share, and the dividend at the end of the fiscal year was 70 yen per share, which resulted in an annual dividend of 120 yen per share and a total dividend value that amounted to 384.665 billion yen. As a result, our consolidated dividend payout ratio reached 23.4%.
Economist Pocket World in Figures 2008: Quality of life best in cold Norway and Iceland - Ireland 4th and Japan 7th where domestic car sales have hit 30-year low and high level of anxiety about daily lives is at 40-year high