Although not officially sold by the manufacturer in the Japanese market until 1985, the Mini became a cult car in Japan. In fact, in 1992 when the Mini was a 33 year old design, 26.9% of all production was going to Japan, which was well over 10,000 cars. The UK market was only taking 22.8% at the time.
Firms such as Mini Maruyama had begun importing Minis to Japan outside of the BMC/BL dealer network in the early 1970s and this market grew so much that they were eventually buying in bulk from UK dealers. Realising the potential, Austin/Rover engineered an air conditioning system, which was essential in the Japanese market and re-launched the car.