The global downturn in car sales is a familiar topic these days, and even the production juggernaut of Toyota is facing unseen declines in demand for its products. To help realign output with that demand, the carmaker recently announced plans to shut down all 12 of its Japanese plants for a total of 11 days in February and March.

Latest reports indicate that the carmaker will also build just half the number of vehicles it produced the previous year in Japan for the months of February, March and April. According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Toyota will cut production during the period to about 9,000 vehicles a day and may need to trim its full-time work force as a result. So far Toyota has only cut its temporary assembly line workers.

The news comes just a month after the carmaker confirmed that it was expecting to post a ¥150 billion ($1.7 billion) operating loss for the year ending March 2009. Management has consistently cited falling demand and an appreciating yen as the key factors leading to the poor performance. Toyota was originally planning to produce 4.21 million vehicles in Japan for the current fiscal year, but trimmed its projection to 3.85 million after the profit warning.

The carmaker also plans to make significant production cuts in North America, which have been designed to reduce inventory in the second quarter to about half of the current range of 80 to 90 days. The cuts will be implemented using a number of non-production days at several North American manufacturing facilities over the next few months.