Japanese Auto Sales Lowest Level In 35 Years

Figures released Wednesday indicate Japanese auto sales dropped more than 25 percent in March. Honda has announced a plan to shut five North American factories for about two weeks. The automaker is also cutting pay to both white and blue-collar workers.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with buyouts at Honda.

America's troubled automakers may be in the spotlight, but as we've heard recently, the recession is also battering Japan's carmakers. Figures out today showed that auto sales in Japan in March dropped to their lowest level in 35 years. And with sales plunging here in the U.S., Japanese carmakers here have to cut production. Yesterday, Honda announced a plan to shut five North American factories for about two weeks. Honda is paying workers for half the time those factories are shut, rather than the entire time, as it's done before. Honda also announced it's cutting pay for both white collar and factory workers and it's offering buyouts.

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