Japan Transport Ministry Begins On-Site Inspection of Daihatsu Motor over Rigged Safety Tests (UPDATE 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry officials enter Daihatsu Motor Co. headquarters for an on-site inspection in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, on Thursday morning.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Ministry began an on-site inspection of Daihatsu Motor Co.’s headquarters on Thursday morning in relation to misconduct in its crash tests.

The ministry will consider administrative actions based on the facts found from the inspection, which has been conducted based on the Road Transport Vehicle Law.

Shortly before 9 a.m., seven ministry officials entered the head office in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture.

“We understand that the matter has undermined confidence in the entire Japanese manufacturing industry. We sincerely apologize,” Keita Ide, executive manager of the company’s Corporate Management Group, told reporters.

A third-party committee consisting of outside attorneys among others found numerous instances of misconduct that the automaker has practiced for a long period of time. This prompted the ministry to conduct the inspection of the headquarters, suspecting that “disregard for safety and legal compliance had spread throughout the company, and the governance system has been lacking.”

In addition to the on-site inspection, the ministry will independently from Daihatsu’s own inspection report inspect all 27 models of vehicles currently made by Daihatsu in Japan as early as next year in order to verify if they comply with safety and environmental standards.

Daihatsu has suspended shipments of all models currently being sold both in Japan and overseas, having been instructed to do so until the verification is completed. The suspension is expected to be prolonged.

Based on the results of the inspection and verification, the ministry will discuss administrative measures by law, including correction orders and revocation of the ministry’s vehicle type designation, which is required for mass production.

According to the third-party committee’s report released Wednesday, 174 cases of misconduct were newly found in the tests of 64 vehicle models — including those under development or no longer in production — with the oldest case conducted in 1989. The number has increased from 2014 onward.

The misconduct was found in 25 test items, including safety-related tests by using a timer to activate airbags that should have been activated electronically and misstating figures of headrest impact tests. Misconduct was also discovered in performance tests such as car exhaust and fuel efficiency.