Sales of new imported vehicles in Japan, including those produced at Japanese automakers' overseas plants, increased 11.7% from a year earlier to 97,282 vehicles in the first half of this year, rising for the first time in four years for the January-June period, an industry body said Tuesday.

The rise is partly attributed to the popularity of small-size imported vehicles that are subject to tax breaks and subsidies, an official of the Japan Automobile Importers Association told Kyodo News.

Sales of foreign-brand passenger cars, trucks and buses climbed 14.9% to 89,189 units but those of Japanese-brand vehicles declined 14.5% to 8,093 units, the association said.

By brand, Volkswagen topped the sales ranking with sales of 24,862 vehicles, up 32.5%. Mercedes-Benz ranked second with sales of 15,556 vehicles, up 13.2%, followed by BMW at 14,184 vehicles, up 6.5%.

For June alone, sales of new imported vehicles, including those made at Japanese automakers' overseas plants, rose 14.0% from a year earlier to 21,315 units, rising for the eighth straight month.

Sales of foreign-brand vehicles climbed 17.4% to 20,272 units, but those of Japanese-brand vehicles declined 27.2% to 1,043 units.

By brand, Volkswagen retained the top position with sales of 5,630 vehicles, up 49.7%, followed by BMW at 3,458 units, up 0.1%, and Mercedes-Benz at 3,426 vehicles, up 22.2%.

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