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TOKYO: Japan’s motorcycle manufacturers, which cast their gaze abroad long ago to make up for shrinking domestic sales, are seeing a jump in demand from an unexpected place: their home market.
Sales of bikes with engines larger than 251cc rose 32% to 51,035 units in the first half, according to data released by the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association this week.
“I never thought I would see anything like this,” said Hideaki Iwami, head of sales at Honda Motorcycle Japan.
For the past few decades, Honda Motor Co, Yamaha Motor Co and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd have operated under the assumption that local sales would shrink, in line with the aging population.
But that trend has reversed, at least for now, thanks to changing consumer habits. The pandemic has left people with more disposable income and a desire to spend more time outdoors, while a persistent parts shortage is forcing people to wait months, or even years, for a new car.
That’s making motorcycles an attractive option for potential buyers such as Yurika Kakiuchi, a 40-year-old office worker who lives in Urayasu City, next to Tokyo.
She recently obtained a driving licence for motorcycles with a displacement of as much as 400cc, and plans to step up to the next level for bigger bikes. “I wanted to learn something new,” Kakiuchi said.,
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