In late 2014, when Shinzo Abe, then prime minister, revealed in a speech that Apple was building its first technology center in Japan, the high-profile foreign investment was touted as a success of its economic policy.
It also fueled immediate speculation that perhaps the iPhone maker was looking for a Japanese partner for its secret project to build autonomous electric vehicles.
So it was only natural that market control would once again fall to the eight Japanese automakers after the US tech giant broke off talks about an automotive link with Hyundai Motor and its South Korean subsidiary Kia.
In the past two weeks of financial results, nearly all Japanese automakers have …
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