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Japan-South Korea rift

Japan automakers roll out freebies to win back South Korean drivers

Boycott bites as some pin hopes for detente on meeting at emperor's coronation

Honda vehicles sit at the port in Yokohama awaiting export. (Photo by Wataru Ito)

SEOUL -- Japanese automakers are struggling to boost sales in South Korea as frayed bilateral tensions continue to take a toll on business, with the local unit of Toyota Motor among those offering hefty incentives to win back customers.

Combined sales of five Japanese brands slumped 59.8% on the year to 1,103 units in September, despite a 4.1% rise in the overall auto market. German makers benefited from their Japanese rivals' woes, with some seeing sales as much as quadruple on the year.

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