TOKYO (AP) _ Production at three leading Japanese automakers fell sharply in fiscal 1998 as slumping domestic demand caused the companies to scale back operations.

Analysts said Friday's reports from the automakers suggest that the industry's output is likely to have fallen below 10 million vehicles for the fiscal year ended March 31 _ the lowest in 20 years.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association will release industry production figures on Monday. The association said earlier this month that Japanese auto sales fell 11.2 percent last fiscal year to 4.21 million vehicles.

Japan's auto industry has been one of the hardest hit by the country's recession.

Toyota Motor Co., Japan's biggest automaker, said Friday its production fell 3.6 percent to about 4.6 million vehicles last fiscal year. Overall output at Toyota was slightly up in March, rising 0.6 percent to 447,853.

At Nissan Motor Co., the country's second largest carmaker, production declined 10.5 percent in fiscal 1998 to 2.5 million vehicles. The company's production retreated 9.2 percent to 233,036 vehicles in March.

Mitsubishi Motor Co. said that its auto output in fiscal 1998 dropped 12.6 percent to about 1.7 million vehicles. Its March production was up 15.1 percent to 177,815.

Exports were also down last year at Japanese car companies. Toyota said its exports fell 3.7 percent to 354,876 vehicles; Nissan's exports were down 0.1 percent to 710,845; and Mitsubishi's dropped 8.1 percent to 511,349.