It’s not easy being a Japanese company these days. Last year, rough relations with China over islands in the East China Sea stirred up anti-Japanese sentiment and boycotts across the country. This resulted in everything from lower sales of Japanese goods to restaurants and shops outright banning Japanese customers from coming in. This year, even though the tensions are dying down between the two countries, car manufacturers like Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) are still seeing earnings numbers take a hit from poor Chinese sales. To make matters a bit more perilous, US car makers like Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) are ramping up their Chinese investments. These companies intend to stay in China for the long haul, giving millions of Chinese car buyers sound alternatives that don’t come from Japan.
Times aren’t good for the Land of the Rising Sun, and may get worse if the frosty relations with the Chinese population become a long-term problem. It could do serious damage to any Japanese company that thrives on an export market such as cars if an economic superpower makes them persona non grata. Things are looking up for Japan outside of the car world, however. In the realm of solar technology, Japan is making serious waves domestically. This is especially true for a mainstay of solar panel manufacturing, Kyocera Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:KYO).
Kyocera Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:KYO) has been making solar panels since 1975 and is poised to reap the benefits of a new government initiative to diversify the nation’s energy supply. After the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in 2011, Tokyo has made an aggressive push through tax credits and programs to become a world leader in clean energy, specifically solar. Here is where Kyocera Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:KYO) stepped in, announcing a 25% boost in manufacturing based on these incentives. This comes after an impressive 18% sales jump over the last fiscal year and reports that Japan will become the second-largest solar energy market in the world behind China.
Solar energy companies are becoming a big investment item in Japan, with the ironic thing being that it is a domestic industry rather than an export industry. With the yen hitting a record high against the dollar earlier this month, many analysts were expecting a boost to Japanese exports. This boost would have given Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) a helping hand within the US car market thanks to lower manufacturing and sales prices. With China at the moment being a difficult place to play, the US becomes a much more attractive market.
Unfortunately, unless the two car makers do something spectacular then it will be very difficult to make huge gains in a market that is used to their presence. This is especially true now that General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is back on top as the number 1 car maker in the world. With Kyocera Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:KYO), investors don’t have this problem; they have a long-term investment in an industry that offers a lot of room for growth. In the last fiscal year, Kyocera reported a 7.5% increase in sales, and is projected to increase by 9.4% by the end of the 2014 fiscal year according to company financial reports that were released in March.