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Toyota, Honda auto sales plunge in China on anti-Japan sentiments sparked by islands row

Sales of Toyota and Honda vehicles nosedived in China during September as anti-Japanese sentiment flared over a territorial dispute.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that sales of new vehicles in China dropped 48.9 percent in September from a year earlier to 44,100 vehicles. Honda Motor Co. said September sales plunged 40.5 percent to 33,931 vehicles.

The stunning plunge in sales comes after Japan last month nationalized tiny islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which had already been controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing.

The move set off violent protests in China, and a widespread call to boycott Japanese goods. Toyota and Honda dealerships were burned down in one city. Both Japanese automakers temporarily closed some of their China factories.