Next week, much of the automotive world will descend on Tokyo for the every-other-year Tokyo motor show.
That show is quite different from other international shows, including those in Frankfurt and Detroit.
The Tokyo show seems to favor the local brands, and that means there is plenty of exhibit space for Japanese vehicles. All too often, the foreign brands, even successful ones, seem to be relegated to second-class citizenship. There's even a separate building for imports, whether they are from Europe or North America.
Japan has more minicars and microcars than any other market. With the high cost of fuel in Japan, plus the crowded conditions, Japanese consumers demand something different from auto manufacturers.
Only in Japan do we see so many very small vehicles. Even China seems to be interested in vehicles larger than the ones popular in Japan.
But this year, the Tokyo motor show is facing new competition in Asia. Many executives and car companies now are looking to China for participation in their annual motor shows. Much of the world is looking to China for sales rather than or in addition to Japan.
For a long time, Japan has been considered a closed market to foreign manufacturers, although the German luxury-car companies have made significant inroads over the years.
But manufacturers from Europe and North America have a huge presence in China.
For those reasons, there would seem to be a higher degree of interest in the spring shows in China than in Tokyo's fall event. It will be interesting to watch those markets vie for supremacy in the years ahead. While the Japanese market has been fairly stagnant during the past few years, the Chinese market keeps growing at an explosive rate.
But you can't count the Japanese market out. The Japanese companies are strong at home and continue to demonstrate innovation at the Tokyo show. A huge number of extremely innovative concept and preproduction vehicles will be on display in Tokyo.
Japan will play an important part in the global marketplace for years to come. How it interacts with China in the next couple of decades will be interesting to watch.