October 1, 2014 / 12:27 PM / 3 years ago

Japan auto sales fall for third month in a row in September

TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Auto sales in Japan fell for the third month in a row in September in the latest sign that an April tax increase is still weighing on consumer spending.

Industry data published on Wednesday showed 518,774 vehicles were sold during September, down 0.8 percent from the same month last year.

Since Japan raised sales tax on April 1 to 8 percent from 5 percent, auto sales have declined every month except June.

Recent economic data, such as household spending, have shown that the Japanese economy is still struggling to bounce back from the tax increase.

"I'm concerned about a slowdown in individual spending," said Yoshitaka Hayashi, a director at the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. "The yen is weakening and gas prices are rising, and I'm worried about the impact on prices."

Domestic sales for Toyota Motor Corp, Japan's biggest automaker, dropped 5.6 percent year-on-year to 136,707 vehicles, including the Lexus brand and 660 cc minicars.

Japan is the second biggest market for Toyota after the United States.

Honda Motor Co's domestic sales rose 4.9 percent to 78,462 vehicles while Nissan Motor Co declined 13.6 percent to 61,641 vehicles. (Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Yoko Kubota; editing by David Clarke)

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