Chrysler posted a profit of $116 million for the first three months of 2011, its first quarter in the black since 2006. That means that the Big 3 American car companies are all making money following their restructurings, say Jeff Bennett and Neal E. Boudette in The Wall Street Journal. And in a surprising reversal of fortunes, Japan's big three — Toyota, Honda, and Nissan — "are slipping into a crisis of their own," as a result of a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. All three Japanese companies are expected to post significant losses for the current quarter, say Bennett and Boudette, with analysts forecasting a $2 billion loss for Toyota. Here, an excerpt:

That Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler are making money while gasoline costs Americans nearly $4 a gallon underscores how dramatically the landscape has shifted. In 2008, they ran up billions of dollars in losses when gas prices spiked, while sales soared for the Japanese car companies.

Since then, Ford has slimmed down on its own, and GM and Chrysler were ushered in and out of bankruptcy. All three emerged stronger just as the U.S. economy began its recovery. Ford and GM also beefed up their offerings of small cars and now are less vulnerable to higher gas prices. ...

U.S. car makers still face many challenges. ... But right now, the Detroit auto makers are looking stronger than they have in decades.

Read the entire article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).