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BEIJING, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales in China fell 15.9 percent last month from a year earlier, still dogged by a sales crisis Japanese carmakers are suffering following a territorial row between the two countries.
Toyota and its two Chinese partners sold 90,800 vehicles in December, compared with 108,000 cars in December 2011, it said on Monday. In 2012, Toyota sold a total of 840,500 vehicles, down 4.9 percent from 2011.
The company had said at the outset of last year it would try to sell one million vehicles in China, but failed to meet the target. It had originally set that target for 2010.
The pace of last month's decline eased more than the Japanese company had expected, a senior company executive told Reuters on Sunday, noting that sales had proved "surprisingly resilient."
Toyota's December sales fall followed declines of 22 percent in November, 44 percent in October and almost 50 percent in September.
The executive attributed the recovery in part to discounts and other sales incentives the company offered during the month, as well as what he said was receding fear among Chinese consumers over owning Japanese cars.
The executive declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to media.
Some Chinese consumers have avoided Japanese cars since violent anti-Japan protests last September after Japan nationalised two East China Sea islands. China claims the islands as its own territory.