TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's automakers have called on the government to end the country's voluntary restraints on automobile exports to the United States when the fiscal year ends in March, according to a government official.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry official said Wedensday that the automakers made the request at a meeting between top auto industry leaders and the head of the ministry, Hajime Tamura.

The automakers said the quota, which puts a 2.3 million-vehicle cap on auto exports to the United States for the year ending in March, no longer was necessary. The companies said the strengthening of the Japanese yen against the dollar, which makes Japanese products more expensive in the United States, would prevent them from selling many additional cars on the U.S. market.

In the past year, the yen has risen by more than 35 percent against the dollar. Many Japanese manufacturers have raised prices to make up for the shift in exchange rates, while others have cut their profit margins to keep prices steady.

The export restraints, which are now in their sixth year, were intended to defuse protectionist sentiment in the United States.

The ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted Tamura as saying the government had not yet decided whether Japan would continue the limits.

Japanese exports of cars, trucks and buses to the United States in the January-June period of this year rose by 18.4 percent over the same period last year to 1,706,597 vehicles.

Meanwhile, an official of Nissan Motor Co., Japan's second largest auto maker, said Nissan will start increasing its imports of U.S. auto parts this month.

Kenkichi Shibata said the company will import 20,000 sealed beams per month for 10,000 trucks for export use to the United States and Canada from the Stamford, Conn.-based GTE Products Corp.

He refused to disclose the value of the parts.

Nissan in Japan has not done business with GTE Products Corp. before, but its U.S. subsidiary imports parts from the firm, ''so we know their products are reliable and of good quality,'' Shibata said.

The United States has long pressed Japanese auto manufacturers to purchase more U.S.-made auto parts, saying U.S parts are as cost efficient and of as high quality as Japanese products.

Japanese auto makers, however, traditionally rely on long-term ties with their affiliated suppliers, and foreign compeititors claim such close business links exclude them from selling in this country.

U.S. sales here amount to less than one percent of the auto parts market.