UPDATE 1-Japan carmakers to cut China production by half-Nikkei

* Nissan to suspend night shifts in China car plants-Nikkei

* Toyota, Honda to cut working hours, slow line speed-Nikkei

* Report does not say how long production cuts will last

* Japan carmakers' plants operating again after Chinaholiday

(Adds Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Suzuki comments and background)

TOKYO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp ,Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co plan toslash production in China by roughly half, the Nikkei newspaperreported on Monday, as a territorial row between Asia's twolargest economies cuts sales of Japanese cars in the world'sbiggest auto market.

Sales have plunged at Japanese car makers since violentprotests and calls for boycotts of Japanese products broke outacross China in mid-September over the Japanese government'spurchase of a group of disputed islands in the East China Seafrom their private owner.

Nissan will suspend the night shift at its passenger carfactories in China and operate only during the day, the businessdaily said. Nissan has two passenger car factories in China, inHuadu and Zhengzhou, with two lines each. A Nissan spokesmandeclined to confirm the report.

Toyota and Honda plan to cut China production to about halfnormal levels by shortening working hours and slowing down thespeed of production lines, the Nikkei said without citing asource.

A Honda spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

A Toyota spokesman could not confirm the details of thereport, saying that plants in China were operating again asplanned after the country's national holiday period last weekand that production was taking placed based on market demand.

Toyota's China sales fell about 40 percent in September froma year before to about 50,000 cars, a senior company executivetold Reuters last week. The firm is set toofficially release its September China sales figures on Tuesday.

The Nikkei report did not say how long the output cuts wouldlast.


A spokeswoman for Mazda , which halted productionfor two extra days in late September before it shutdownfactories during the holiday season, said plants in China wereoperating again but declined to comment on details.

A spokesman for Suzuki Motor Corp , which in lateSeptember had stopped one of two shifts that it normally runs inChina ahead of the holiday season, said production was now backto what it was prior to the holiday.

Anti-Japan sentiment across China escalated last month amida row over a group of uninhabited islets, known as the Senkakuislands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China, whose nearbywaters are thought to hold potentially rich natural gasreserves. They have been under Japan's control since 1895.

Demonstrators vandalised properties of Japanese companies,including a Toyota outlet in the eastern city of Qingdao thatwas torched, in the latest flare-up in tensions that havesmouldered since the end of World War Two.

The latest production adjustments come on top of generalcutbacks the Japanese automakers had been making before theprotests, as the Chinese economy grew at its slowest pace inmore than three years in the second quarter.

But the dramatic drop in demand for cars made by Japanesebrands, which had a combined share of roughly a fifth of China'spassenger car market in August before the protests, has been anunexpected boon for foreign rivals.

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co's China salesclimbed 15 percent to 84,188 vehicles last month, whileVolkswagen's Audi boosted sales by 20 percent, BMW

by 55 percent and Daimler's Mercedes-Benzby 10 percent.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota, Kentaro Sugiyama; Editing by RichardPullin and Alex Richardson)

((yoko.kubota@thomsonreuters.com)(+81 3 6441 1886)(ReutersMessaging: yoko.kubota.reuters.com@reuters.net))