Japan's First Half Auto Production Plunges

TOKYO (AP) -- Production at Japan's automakers plunged 45 percent in the first half, marking the first such fall in eight years, an industry group said Thursday.

Japanese auto production totaled 3.32 million vehicles for the January-June period, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said. Auto production in June tumbled 34 percent to 683,958 vehicles from the same month the previous year, slipping for the ninth straight month on-year.

Exports from Japan in the first half plummeted 59.1 percent to 1.43 million vehicles, also the first decrease in eight years for a first half, the association said.

The numbers underline the tough times for this nation's core industry, although signs of a gradual recovery are emerging.

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