A Buddhist sect is to buy about 70 percent of Nissan Motor’s partly-closed Murayama assembly plant near Tokyo for an estimated 80 billion yen ($US598 million), AutoAsia Online said, citing unconfirmed reports in Japan.

The website said that Sinnyo-en, a Buddhist order created 65 years ago with 800,000 claimed followers, will apparently buy about one million square metres of the 1.4 million sq.m. site at the end of March with Nissan using the cash raised to further reduce interest-bearing debt.

The Buddhists plan to build temples and create a public park at Murayama with the remaining land used by Nissan to build a large ‘Carest‘ used vehicle sales centre, AutoAsia Online said.

Murayama, due for complete closure in spring 2004, was once home to the Skyline and Skyline GT-R sports sedans and built about 9.7 million vehicles between 1962 and March 2001, the website added.