Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Honda ships some Accord models from the United States to South Korea.
SEOUL (Reuters) -- Honda Motor Co. is considering importing cars into South Korea from the United States instead of neighboring Japan, its chief executive said on Wednesday, in a move aimed at avoiding damage from the yen's strength.
The move by the Japanese automaker comes after its bigger rival Toyota Motor Corp. said last week it would sell U.S.-made Sienna minivans in South Korea, shipping cars from the United States for the first time to the country.
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito made the remarks to reporters in Seoul.
Currently Japan's No.3 automaker ships all of the models it sells in South Korea from Japan. These are the CR-V, CR-Z, Insight, Civic and the U.S. version of the Accord, which is different from the Japan version.
The strong yen is making exports from Japan less cost-competitive and profitable, while a possible free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States has given added incentive to reduce shipments from Japan.
Japanese auto executives have complained that Tokyo was not doing enough to stem the yen's rise and sign free trade agreements, saying that was making it difficult to compete against the likes of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co.
The move also comes as Japanese firms are sharply losing their market share in Korea to European rivals such as BMW and Volkswagen , partly hit by the earthquake in Japan earlier this year.
Sales of Japanese cars in Korea plunged 21 percent in the January-October period, while sales of German vehicles jumped 34 percent.
Importing cars from the United States will have a limited impact on overall earnings, however, because Japanese automakers have a tiny share of the South Korean market.
Last year, Honda sold 5,600 cars in South Korea, while Toyota sold 10,000.