"The management environment will likely be more unclear than the previous year due to higher-than-expected costs of various things. But we are committed to pushing growth with a sense of speed by introducing new products," Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto said during this month's earnings report.
Mazda's sentiment sums up the Japanese industry's forward focus.
Mazda Motor Corp. has better reason than most to be optimistic in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31. The automaker, based in Hiroshima, expects operating profit to climb 15 percent.
Joining it in the growth club is Subaru Corp. The all-wheel-drive specialist sees operating profit more than doubling this fiscal year as it clears supply chain bottlenecks that have pinched production.
But the rest of Japan's automakers are not as bullish. Toyota and Honda expect operating profit to fall, while Nissan and Mitsubishi see it mostly flat. Rising raw material costs are the main drag.