TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's auto industry lobby on Thursday slashed its forecast for new vehicle sales by 8 percent to 4.845 million for the current business year citing a delay in the sales tax hike originally scheduled for next April.

The new figure would represent a 1.9 percent fall from the last fiscal year that ended in March 2016, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said. It had previously forecast a 6.5 percent rise to 5.258 million vehicles.

The government decided in June to postpone the sales tax hike, to 10 percent from 8 percent, by 2-1/2 years to October 2019.

(Reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)