Following the U.S. example of pressuring Japan to restrict its automobile exports, Canada and the European Community are insisting on a similar deal with the Japanese.

Canadian officials, fearful of a new diversion of Japanese autos into their country's market, today began trying country's market, today began trying to negotiate an export-restricting agreement based on the terms Japan promised the United States last week.

The EC Commission approved a similar position yesterday at a meeting in Strasbourg, France, even though several European countries already restrict the level of Japanese imports.

The actions confirmed the accuracy of the concern that several Japanese officials had expressed that buckling to American pressure would trigger similar demands from other industrial countries.

Japan last week grudgingly agreed to a reduction this year of about 7.7 percent in its car exports to the American market.

It did so primarily because of a congressional threat to impose even tougher quotas and hints from the Reagan administration that the congressional measure would not be vetoed for political reasons.

So far Japan has indicated that it will not offer Canada and the Europeans similar treatment, raising the possibility that those countries may retaliate by imposing formal quotas.

Japan also has indicated that it may retaliate by imposing trade restrictions.