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While this move is a bit dramatic, it's not drastic like the North American layoffs and plant closures employed by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler as those automakers fight for survival. A while back, changing legislation allowed Japanese automakers to begin hiring part-time, contract workers. This is serving to be quite a boon for them as they quickly adjust to a changing market without fees or retribution from unions or government.
Tatsuo Yoshida, an auto analyst at UBS in Tokyo, explained to Automotive News that the biggest reason for the adjustments at the Japanese firms is a drop in auto exports primarily to North America. He believes we will see further job cuts from Japanese automakers in 2009.--Colin Mathews