TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's four biggest auto makers said their domestic production of cars and trucks rose in May from a year earlier, a sign of recovery in one of the nation's biggest industries.

Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Mistubishi Motors Corp. said growing domestic sales and exports, especially to the United States, triggered the rise in output.

Mazda Motor Corp., a Ford Motor Co. affiliate, was alone among the top five carmakers to report a decline in domestic output.

Japan's auto industry is struggling to emerge from a slump in which domestic sales and production have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade.

``It's a tentative recovery,'' said Jeremy Tonkin, an auto analyst at Tsubasa Research Institute in Tokyo. ``There are a lot of old cars out there that need to be turned in for new ones.''

He added, however, that Japanese consumers remain reluctant to buy big-ticket items amid stagnant wages and near-record unemployment.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's biggest automaker, said output rose 12.4 percent in May to 257,872 vehicles on rising domestic sales and exports to Europe, Asia and North America.

Honda, the second-largest, said production for the month jumped 15.7 percent to 91,881 vehicles on strong domestic sales of its Odyssey minivan and Life minivehicle.

Nissan, an affiliate of France's Renault SA, reported a 9.7 percent rise in domestic output to 99,168 vehicles, thanks to growing exports and an increase in domestic sales of its Serena minivans and Wingroad wagons.

Mitsubishi Motors, which earlier this year agreed to sell a 34 percent stake in itself to DaimlerChrysler AG, said domestic output rose 8.5 percent to 73,865 vehicles on strong exports to North America and because of strong demand in Japan for its minivehicles and Dion wagon.

Hiroshima-based Mazda said domestic output fell 1.4 percent to 55,470 vehicles, the first decline in five months.