Motor vehicle sales in Japan are expected to fall short of a conservative industry projection for this year, Fujio Cho, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, was quoted as saying on Thursday.

His comments came after Honda Motor vice president Koichi Kondo on Wednesday said it was "likely" the forecast for his company's Japan sales would be reduced from the current projection for 660,000 vehicles - already 1.8% down on 2006 - and Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said last week that overseas sales, including regions such as the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Russia, would make up for an expected drop in home market sales.

Although JAMA earlier forecast that domestic sales of vehicles, including minivehicles, would drop to 5.63m units in 2007 from the previous year's 5.74m, the projection is ''extremely difficult'' to attain, Cho told Kyodo News.

Cho, who chairs Toyota Motor, also said: ''We are gravely concerned'' about the adverse effect of higher petrol prices on car sales, the news agency added.