Daihatsu Motor's Tanto was the best-selling vehicle in Japan last year with sales of 234,456 units. It's the first time a minicar topped the list in 6 years.
The Japan Automobile Dealers Association and other auto industry associations announced sales figures on Thursday.
Toyota Motor's Aqua compact hybrid car came in second with sales of 233,209 units, followed by Honda's compact car Fit with 202,838 units.
Honda's minicar N-BOX came in fifth and Suzuki Motor's minicar Wagon R ranked sixth. Seven out of the 10 top sellers were minicars.
Officials from the auto associations said consumers are increasingly looking for lower costs following the consumption tax hike in April.
They also cited the spread of safety equipment such as automatic braking systems on mini-vehicles.