General Motors on Tuesday said it plans to cut the work force at its two Japanese units by as much as 50% from the current 180 over the next few months, according to Dow Jones.

GM said it has offered voluntary retirement plans to employees of General Motors Asia Pacific (Japan), which oversees GM's Japanese operations, and General Motors Japan Ltd., which imports and wholesales GM cars, Dow Jones reported.

Citing a spokesman, Dow Jones said GM is also reassessing its role in the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association because of recent changes in its relationships with its alliance partners in Japan.

Dow Jones noted that, last month, GM said Suzuki Motor would assume responsibility for imports, distribution and after-sales parts queries for Chevrolet products in Japan and that GM has also said [Subaru maker] Fuji Heavy Industries would begin distributing its full line of Saab products.

GM Japan handles Chevrolet, Cadillac, Saab and Opel cars, and it sold 80,000 vehicles there in 2002 after selling 93,500 in 2001, the spokesman told Dow Jones.

According to the news agency, he declined to give company sales targets for its trucks and cars in Japan this year, but said sales of its Chevrolet-brand cars have been "pretty good" so far in 2003.