The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said on Thursday its members would close their plants in Japan on Thursdays and Fridays and open Saturdays and Sundays from July to the end of September this year to reduce weekday electricity consumption.

The measure is in response to the government's request that electricity consumption be cut by 15% in peak demand hours this summer in the service areas for Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami damaged their power generation capacity, Kyodo News reported.

''We have given priority to electricity conservation and stable production,'' JAMA chairman Toshiyuki Shiga told a press conference. ''The measure will produce a great effect to reduce peak electricity demand on weekdays.''

Shiga, also chief operating officer of Nissan Motor, indicated that the auto industry with great influences on the industrial world should take leadership in conserving electricity.

The Japan Auto Parts Industries Association plans to move in step with JAMA to stabilise production and save weekday electricity consumption. JAMA has urged other industries to close manufacturing plants on weekdays.

Earlier on Thursday, under the industry ministry's initiative, Japanese automakers started discussions aimed at working out a strategy to revive the industry amid supply chain disruptions and power restrictions following the disaster.

''I hope Japan's automobile industry will maintain its status and role...in the world economy, although the conditions are tough,'' industry minister Banri Kaieda told the meeting, adding that he also expects automakers to play a key role in developing new energy sources such as storage batteries.

Officials attending the gathering, including Toyota Motor president Akio Toyoda and Honda Motor president Takanobu Ito, would continue addressing such issues as supply chain enhancement and domestic car market revitalisation before summing up their discussions on an interim basis in June for future policy making, ministry officials said.

During the meeting, Suzuki Motor president Osamu Suzuki touched on the possible impact the recent suspension of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant would have on production by the company whose manufacturing base is in Shizuoka Prefecture where the plant is located.

The operation of the plant, run by Chubu Electric Power Co, has been suspended on a government request aimed at reducing the risk of another nuclear crisis following the one involving the Fukushima Daiichi complex. But the move has raised concerns over power shortages in its service area which is home to a number of major Japanese manufacturers.

The service areas of Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co also face power shortages after some of their power generation facilities were damaged in the disaster that hit northeastern and eastern Japan.