The vehicle market in Japan stabilised in April after sharp declines in previous months.

New registrations rose by 1.6% to 324,748 units last month from weak sales of 319,480 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).

Economic growth in the country remains sluggish, however, despite low unemployment, negative interest rates and other ongoing government stimulus programmes.

The market in April was underpinned by strong sales of medium and large passenger vehicles, classified as 'standard size' by JAMA, driven by particularly strong gains by Toyota and Honda. The bus segment also enjoyed strong year-on-year growth in April. 

In the first four months of 2016, total vehicle sales in Japan were 5.5% lower at 1,794,852 units, from 1,898,360 units a year earlier. Passenger vehicle sales declined by 3.9% to 1,512,827 units in this period; truck sales were 3.4% lower at 275,949 units; while bus sales rose by over 16.5% to 6,076 units.

Toyota's sales fell by 0.8% year-on-year to 513,461 units in the first four months of the year; while second-placed Honda reported a 7.0% drop to 260,623 units; Suzuki 230,519 units (-3.2%); Daihatsu 217,731 units (-9.2%); Nissan 215,544 units (-10.0%); and Mazda 81,075 units (-17.1) also all saw falls.