February 1, 2013 / 6:11 AM / 6 years ago

Toyota says Jan China auto sales up 23.5 pct yr-on-yr

SHANGHAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp and its China joint ventures sold 72,500 cars in the country in January, up 23.5 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Friday.

That shows an improvement from December when sales declined 15.9 percent and the first year-on-year growth since June last year.

Japanese car makers saw their China sales drop sharply after violent anti-Japan protests erupted across the country in September after Japan nationalised disputed islands in the East China Sea. China also claims the islands as its own territory.

Japanese car makers, including Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co, have seen a slow recovery of sales in the country since October.

While sales of Japanese brands have been recovering, it would be difficult for them to regain their number one position from German rivals as long as the diplomatic dispute remains unresolved, industry observers say.

Toyota, which operates car ventures in China with FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co , aims to sell 900,000 cars in the country this year, up 7.1 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting Kazunori Takada in SHANGHAI and Fang Yan in BEIJING; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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