Sales of new vehicles imported into Japan rose for the first time in three years in 2010, industry figures have shown.

The figure, which includes vehicles made by Japanese manufacturers abroad, reached 225,083 units, up 26.1% over 2009, as sales recovered from the economic crisis that year. The Japanese Automobile Importers Association said that the numbers had been boosted by the inclusion in the data of Nissan's March [Micra] compact car which is now produced in Thailand following a redesign in 2010.

Sales of Japanese-brand cars, trucks, and buses more than doubled to 43,001 units. Sales of foreign-brand vehicles went up 13.2% to 182,082 units.

In December alone, the total number of vehicles produced by foreign manufacturers and Japanese manufacturers newly registered was was 22,578 units, an increase of 12.5%. However, the number of vehicles produced and imported by foreign manufacturers alone in the month was 18,166 units, a fall of 3.2% compared with the same month of last year.

Volkswagen maintains its position as the leading imported brand with a 20.75% share of the market with 46,707 units. BMW follows with a 14.41% share, with Mercedes-Benz in third with 13.74% and Nissan fourth with 11.98%.

A full breakdown of the import figures can be found here.