A total of 2,390,701 cars, trucks and buses manufactured in Japan were exported in the January-June period of 2004, up 4 percent from a year earlier for the third consecutive year of increase.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Wednesday that the growth was due to steady demand in other parts of Asia.

Some 58,660 cars were exported in the six-month period, up 3 percent, along with 28,302 trucks, up 9.4 percent, and 4,129 buses, up 18.6 percent.

The value of motor vehicles exported in the first half grew 12.4 percent from the previous year to $53.11 billion, it said.

In June alone, 420,092 vehicles were exported, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier for the fourth straight month of year-on-year increase.

Some 5,306,948 cars, trucks and buses were manufactured in Japan in the first half of 2004, up 3.4 percent from the same period the previous year, posting an increase in the January-June period for the third year in a row.

The figure for the January-June period was the highest since 1997, when 5.69 million vehicles were produced in the first half of that year.

Production of cars rose 3.4 percent to 4,407,691 vehicles in the period, trucks grew 3.3 percent to 868,061 units and buses 0.3 percent to 31,196.

Vehicle production in June grew 6.9 percent from a year earlier to 935,302 vehicles for the first year-on-year rise in two months.

An association official forecast total vehicle output in Japan for the whole of 2004 would exceed 10 million units, noting that automakers are scheduled to launch a number of new models in the second half of the year.

Overseas production by Japanese automakers in the January-March quarter rose 13.4 percent from year-before levels to 2,311,583 vehicles, led by expansion in manufacturing capacity elsewhere in Asia and in Europe and North America.

The figure for overseas production in fiscal 2003 grew 12.6 percent from the previous year to a record 8,880,083 vehicles, it said.

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