Mitsubishi Motors and Mazda have asked for Japanese government help to pay workers at plants idled due to the credit crisis.

Japan last month loosened its criteria for companies to apply for aid to cover half of the wages of workers on days when plants suspend operations, a move aimed at supporting firms weather the recession, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.

"We've applied for the subsidy and the application has been accepted by the labour ministry," a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman told the news agency, adding the aid would go towards the wages of at least 6,200 workers.

Mazda said it had asked for the same subsidy which it has last applied for in 1996.

Under Japanese law, companies have to pay at least 60% of wages to workers on days when operations are halted to adjust production.