Japan's vehicle output in May fell 30.9% year on year to 489,723 units for the eighth consecutive monthly decline, an industry body said on Thursday, as parts supply shortages lingered following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

But the decline narrowed from a record 60.1% drop in April, the data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association cited by Kyodo News showed, reflecting recovering production at parts makers.

Leading automakers were able to restart suspended plants by mid-April as disaster-hit parts makers continued to restore production.

''Output has been gradually recovering and, according to each manufacturer's announcement, production will likely return to full capacity by early [autumn],'' an association official said.

By vehicle type, passenger car output declined 32.5% to 410,971 units, marking the second-largest percentage fall since comparable data were first compiled in 1966. Production of trucks fell 18.7% to 74,804 units and that of buses dropped 52.3% to 3,948 units.

Toyota, Japan's largest automaker, suffered a 54.4% fall in domestic production to 107,437 units but the decline was narrower than the 78.4% drop in April.

While Honda production also recorded a double-digit drop of 53.4% to 34,746 units, Nissan Motor's edged up 0.8% to 80,036 units.

Exports in the month dropped 40.5% to 202,833 vehicles, down for the third straight month, the association said. It followed a 67.8% dive in April.

Passenger car exports were down 40.5% at 178,901 units, with truck exports falling 35.3% to 20,144 units and bus shipments dropping 56.2% to 3,788 units.

Exports to North America declined 36.3% to 71,458 units, the lowest volume for the month of May since the association began providing export data in 1972.