Vehicle output in Japan in March fell 57.3% from a year earlier to 404,039 units as major Japanese automakers suspended production following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, an industry body said.

The figure represents the sixth straight year-to-year fall, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association told Kyodo News.

The eight major Japanese automakers all saw steep falls in their output in the month.

Industry leader Toyota's domestic output nosedived 62.7% to 129,491 units while that of Honda plunged 62.9% to 34,754 units. Output by Nissan Motor slid 52.4% to 47,590 units.

The association also said Japan's vehicle exports in March declined 26.1% to 312,478 units, the first fall in 15 months.

In fiscal 2010, which ended in March, Japan's vehicle output increased 1.5% from the previous year to 8,993,975 units, the first gain in three years, it said.

Many Japanese automakers posted rises in domestic output for the year, including Nissan with a 4.6% rise to 1,072,590 units and Honda with a 1.2% gain to 912,307 units.

But Toyota's annual domestic output fell 6.3% to 3,003,845 units.

Japan's vehicle exports in the year increased 17.5% to 4,803,068 units for the first rise in three years.