TOKYO (Reuters) -- Several Japanese automakers temporarily shuttered assembly plants and dealerships in the world's second-biggest economy as a territorial dispute and the anniversary of Japan's invasion of China prompted thousands to protest in Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities.
Toyota Motor Corp. planned to halt operations at some of its factories in China on Tuesday as the anti-Japan demonstrations escalate across the country, Kyodo news agency said.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara triggered the dispute in April when he said he may use public funds to buy islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, from a private Japanese owner.
Tensions escalated after Japan's cabinet approved the purchase of the islands for 2.05 billion yen ($26 million) on Sept. 11. China has said it doesn't accept the move.
Thousands protested in front of the Japanese embassy in Beijing today, demanding control of the islands and calling for boycotts of Japanese goods.
Sales of Japanese-branded passenger cars fell last month in China, compared with gains of more than 10 percent for German, American and South Korean vehicles according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. China is the world's largest car market.
Toyota, Nissan and Honda all reported damage to dealerships in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. Separately, Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings Ltd. showed footage of Japanese cars that had been overturned, with their windshields smashed by protesters.
NissanMotor Co., the biggest Japanese automaker in China, ranked by sales, will resume production at four plants in China on Wednesday. The automaker suspended production on Monday and Tuesday at two factories each in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and the central city of Zhengzhou.
Mazda Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. will reopen plants tomorrow after suspending output. Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. have also closed plants and neither have said when production may resume.
Many dealerships in China that sell Japanese cars have shut after some outlets were attacked and vandalized, said Luo Lei, deputy secretary general of the China Automobile Dealers Association.
"We don't know how far damages on Japanese companies will extend while all they can do is just hold still," said Kenichi Hirano, general manager and strategist at Tachibana Securities Co. in Tokyo. "Investors will take a wait-and-see attitude toward companies related with China such as retailers and autos."
Bloomberg contributed to this report