The Japanese giant blames the sharp fall in sales and the glooming world economy as the reason. Nissan expects to lose about 265bn yen ($4.3bn) in the current financial year.
Once the saviour of Nissan and a national hero in Japan, chief executive Carlos Ghosn publicly stated the the firm's "worst assumptions on the state of the global economy have been met or exceeded. The global auto industry is in turmoil. Nissan is no exception."
The 20,000 jobs are expected to go between March 2009 and March 2010, this will leave Nissan with 215,000 staff from 235,000. There is no confirmation as to which plants will be affected, although as reported last month Nissan Australia has already cut 50 jobs. The company is also planing to cut working hours for ongoing staff.
The news comes amid an 18.6% sales decline for the brand during October-December last year. As a result, Nissan lost 83.2bn yen ($1.37 billion), compared with a 132.2bn ($2.17 billion) profit a year earlier.
Apart from the 20,000 workers set to lose their income, Nissan is expected to suffer a credibility dint in its home country.
So far this year the majority of car companies have taken steps in reducing staff and output as the doom-gloom sales decline becomes a reality.