Overseas production by Japan’s 11 automakers increased 9.6 percent in 1999 from the previous year to 5.89 million units, due to the economic recovery in Asia and the expansion of the U.S. auto market, according to data released Friday by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The association compiled the data to show the progress of Japanese carmakers’ activities overseas, association officials said. By region, the carmakers’ overseas production under Japanese car brands increased 30 percent in Asia from a year earlier to 1.58 million units and rose 8.5 percent in North America to 2.9 million units.

In the Middle East, production rose more than threefold from 5,688 units in 1998 to 19,253 cars in 1999.

But production decreased 16.7 percent in the Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand, to 125,575 units and dropped 5.4 percent in Europe to 871,017 units.

During the first three months of 2000, overseas production by the Japanese automakers also increased 13.3 percent from the same period last year to 1.62 million units, the association said.

In 1999, annual domestic production was about 9.9 million units, down 1.5 percent from the previous year. It was the first time in 20 years that domestic production did not reach 10 million vehicles.

Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the association, said Friday he is optimistic that Japanese carmakers’ domestic production will exceed 10 million cars this year because the economy is showing signs of recovery.