Production and exports of Japanese vehicles nearly doubled in February from a year ago, when the global recession hit Japan's car giants hard, an industry body said on Tuesday.

Domestic production of passenger vehicles, trucks and buses reached 841,796 in the month, up 74.9% from a year ago, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) told news agency AFP.

Exports of passenger cars, trucks and buses jumped 79.8% to 381,407, the association said. The big gains showed a rebound from a deep industry-wide slump last year, as a result of the global downturn.

"The industry last year experienced historic lows. The latest figures may seem strong, but the actual level is still 70 to 80% of what they were before the global economic crisis," a JAMA spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

"The recent recovery has been attained with help from the government's special incentive programmes," such as tax breaks and subsidies for fuel-efficient autos, she said.

"The special programmes will end sometime. We will see what will happen without the help."

Nonetheless, exports to all regions showed sharp increases, with Asia driving the overall rise.

The region, including China, collectively imported 46,740 Japanese vehicles in February, up 159.1% year on year.

Several major Japanese automakers more than doubled their production level from last year.

Toyota, trying to regain its brand image tarnished by its global recall crisis, increased production by 119.6% to 309,933 cars and exported 150,232 vehicles in February, up 106.9%.