An international motor show opened to the media today in Guangzhou, southern China, where Japanese automakers are taking part in an effort to reverse slumping sales in the world’s largest automotive market.

It is the first time that Japanese automakers have carried out large-scale exhibits in China of their products, including the latest fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly models, since anti-Japan demonstrations erupted in the country in September.

The demonstrations came in the wake of the Japanese government’s purchase of part of the Japanese-administered, Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands from a private Japanese owner earlier that month.

During the demonstrations, some protesters vandalized sales outlets of Japanese carmakers and attacked Japanese cars on the streets. The ensuing boycott of Japanese cars and other products led to sharp falls in sales of Japanese cars in China.

Opening to the public tomorrow, the 10th China (Guangzhou) International Automobile Exhibition, also known as Auto Guangzhou, will run through December 2 at China Import & Export Fair Complex in the city. Organizers estimate more than 500,000 people will visit the site during the period.

Toyota Motor Corp sets up the biggest booth in terms of floor space since it participated in the Guangzhou exhibition.

Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co are demonstrating their commitment by operating booths on an equal scale to last year’s.

Sales of Japanese cars in China fell 59.4 percent in October from a year earlier to 98,900 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. It was the first time that single-month sales of Japanese cars in China have dropped below 100,000 units since 2009.

Accordingly, Japanese carmakers’ share of the Chinese market dropped from 20.2 percent in June, the top among foreign automakers, to 7.6 percent in October.

Despite dismal data, signs of positive developments have emerged in economic ties between the two countries such as the resumption of businesses in China by retailer Heiwado Co and other Japanese companies that had been suspended following violent protests in September.

The trade ministers of Japan, China and South Korea also announced Tuesday in Cambodia the launch of negotiations for a trilateral free trade agreement early next year, despite strained political relations.