New vehicle sales in Japan grew 10% in 2009 fiscal year which ended yesterday compared to the previous 12 months to 3,182,073, the first upturn in seven years according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

JADA said the recovery was led by government tax breaks and subsidies for the purchase of fuel-efficient cars as the industry battled the global financial crisis.

Last month new vehicle sales rose 37.2% from March a year ago to 443,298 units, the eighth straight month of growth. Sales of passenger cars, excluding mini vehicles with engine displacement of up to 660cc, soared 40.7% to 402,826. Bus sales grew 2.3% to 2,694 and truck sales gained 0.7% to 37,778 units.

Despite being pounded by massive recalls worldwide, Toyota saw its March sales in Japan jump 50.7% to 204,514 units. Nissan also grew 23.8% to 73,411 units while Honda saw a 33.6% gain to 60,457 units.

Analysts said damage to Toyota over its recall crisis has peaked in Japan compared to Europe and the United States.

Separately, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said domestic sales fell 6.1% in fiscal 2009 from the previous year to 1,698,192 units, the third consecutive year of decline.

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By GlobalData

The association said sales likely suffered because mini vehicles received smaller benefits from the government stimulus measures for eco-friendly cars compared with larger-sized vehicles.