Car sales in Japan jumped in February as government efforts to revive domestic sales and replenished inventories drew buyers into showrooms in the world’s third-largest car market. New automobile sales in Japan surged 29.5 per cent year-on-year to 519,626 vehicles in February, industry data showed on Thursday. Excluding 660cc minivehicles, sales jumped 31.9 per cent to 333,213 vehicles, the sixth consecutive month of annual gains. Japanese automakers are expecting a standout home market in 2012 following the extension of tax incentives for fuel-efficient cars and the return of subsidies to encourage replacement of older cars with new, cleaner vehicles. “Customer understanding (of a recovery in supply and government incentives) is rising, so we have similar expectations for March,” said Michiro Saito, an official at the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. In 2011, Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami then flooding in Thailand, a major manufacturing base, caused autoparts shortages and production suspensions, cutting inventories and sales. Japanese auto demand is expected to rise 19 per cent in 2012, partly due to higher sales in tsunami-hit areas, where thousands of cars were destroyed, and thanks to government efforts to stimulate demand.