This year’s biennial Tokyo Motor Show will have only about half the number of exhibitors as in 2007 because many US and European auto firms have withdrawn amid a deepening industry slump, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said, noting that 122 companies from nine economies are registered for 2009, compared with 241 companies from 12 economies two years ago.

Along with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz are also skipping the event to reduce expenses amid tough business conditions.

Japan’s four major truck makers have also withdrawn their participation in the wake of plummeting sales, Kyodo News reported.

”It’s extremely regrettable that the number of exhibitors is decreasing,” JAMA (and Honda) chairman Satoshi Aoki said.

The event has been shortened by four days to 13 from 23 October to 4 November and venue floor space will be cut almost in half to 22,594 sq m.

Compared to sprawling Frankfurt, the Tokyo show is a relatively compact event and the drastic reduction in floor space used at Makahari Messe will be quite evident to regular visitors.

Porsche, Ferrari and Hyundai Motor plan to attend the event and JAMA said it hopes to attract more family visitors by allowing junior high school students to enter for free. Free entry was previously limited to primary school students.

Kyodo said the prominence of the Tokyo show among the world’s five big events has declined visibly in recent years, while China has grabbed the spotlight with its expanding car market.

”There’s no doubt we’ll continue to comprise an essential part of the world’s motor shows,” Aoki said. ”We hope to bring back a lively show next time.”