Japan’s top three car makers announced record overseas production last year as the migration of manufacturing to lower-cost countries was matched by an increase in overseas demand for Japanese vehicles, a Financial Times report said.

According to the report, Toyota output outside Japan in 2002 rose 20.8% to 2.15 million units, while Honda recorded a 10.8% increase to 1.51 million and Nissan a 6.5% improvement to 1.29 million.

The report said the exodus of production from Japan is set to gather pace in coming years as car makers expand production in China and Thailand, as well as Eastern Europe and North and South America.

The FT said the increase of both production and sales overseas contrasts with the domestic Japanese market, where sales of new vehicles dropped 2% last year, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Total sales of new vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses and mini-vehicles, were 5.8 million last year, the second consecutive annual decline.