Nissan Aims to Cut 1,500 Jobs in Japan

Nissan Motor said it would announce details of a voluntary early retirement program in Japan later on Tuesday, aiming to cut up to 1,500 blue and white-collar jobs amid a shrinking domestic market.

The scheme, to start in June, will be open to workers aged 45 and above in non-managerial posts, Nissan spokesman Simon Sproule said. A formal announcement will be made at 9 a.m. local time.

Japan's third-biggest automaker, held 44% by Renault, has seen its domestic sales of non-minivehicles plummet in the face of tough competition in a shrinking market where it launched few new models.

In response to the slide, Nissan said last month it was cutting back production at two domestic car plants from April to June. It also closed down one of three lines at another factory, in southern Japan, last September due to slow sales of the Teana high-end sedan.

Nissan also recently cut jobs in the United States, where its sales slumped last year. It said last month 775 workers at two Tennessee plants had accepted voluntary buyouts, representing a reduction of 12.5 percent of the factories' work force.

Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, who also heads Renault, faces an urgent task of improving Nissan's operations after issuing a profit warning in February forecasting the first annual earnings decline under his watch.

Ghosn promised last month to draw up additional measures to help Nissan meet its targets under a three-year plan, but a source familiar with the situation told Reuters the company was likely to postpone its target of selling 4.2 million vehicles in the business year through March 2009.

Analysts expect Nissan also to fall short of its target of an average 20% return on invested capital (ROIC) during the plan, which runs through this business year, ending March 31, 2008.

Ghosn is due to announce full-year results and updates to the "Nissan Value-up" business plan on April 26.