Mitsubishi Motors Corp on Friday said it wants to close one of its car assembly plants in Japan by the end of 2005 to speed up cost cuts as the money-losing automaker battles a major scandal over defect cover-ups, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The report noted that the Tokyo-based company had announced earlier this year that it will close its Okazaki plant in central Japan within the next four years as part of an overhaul of its operations.

Mitsubishi Motors proposed this week to its labour union a plan to start sending the 1,600 workers at the Okazaki plant from July 2005 to other Mitsubishi sites to shutter the plant by the end of next year, a company spokesman told AP on condition of anonymity – the union will reply to the proposal by the end of this month, he said.

Mitsubishi Motors, which is embarking on a revival with funding from its affiliated Mitsubishi group companies, has repeatedly said it wants to speed up that plan, including trimming jobs, streamlining models and slashing pay cheques, AP said.

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