Amid a revival in sales of Japanese goods in China and talk of renewed investment from some big firms such as Toyota, a dusty industrial park near Nanjing offers a cold reality check on the health of ties between Asia's two biggest economies.
Despite offering rent-free premises for the first three years to companies expanding to China, the Japan Automotive Parts Industrial Center (JAPIC), set up in Danyang, 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Shanghai, in 2011, remains near empty.
A visit to the Danyang park, the brainchild of former Toyota Motor executive Kazuo Azuma, challenges the view that Japan Inc's engagement with China is slowly recovering from the shock of anti-Japanese protests that erupted two years ago.
"Do we see any ray of hope?" asks Azuma, who has spent more than 20 years in China, mostly building factories for Toyota. "To be honest, none at the moment. Japan's full of risk-birds chirping, 'China risk.'"
Azuma's vision was to transplant up to 400 auto parts makers from Japan's industrial heartland, to help them survive the global shift in car demand to emerging economies. China, which is expected to generate annual sales of well above 30 million vehicles by 2020, appears the obvious choice for such firms to establish a base.
But JAPIC has only 24 parts producers in operation – half of what had been envisioned by now.
Azuma and the Danyang local government, which has invested at least 220 million yuan ($36 million) in the project, have called off the second and third phases of construction.
They have also decided to drop "Japan" from the park's name and to try to woo Taiwanese and other suppliers with ties with Japanese producers.