Transport ministry plans tougher vehicle recall system

The transport ministry will beef up its vehicle recall system by assessing consumer complaints and introducing verification tests.

Nobuteru Ishihara, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, said Tuesday the ministry will include about 500 million yen in its budget request for fiscal 2005 for stepped-up measures aimed at ensuring that automakers announce recalls.

The moves represent a response to a series of defect coverups involving Mitsubishi Motors Corp. The revamped system is due to take effect next fiscal year.

The ministry will assess consumer complaints about vehicle defects conveyed via the Internet and other channels, and cross-check them with information from the automakers involved, according to the plan unveiled by Ishihara.

Automakers will be required to submit to the ministry information related to vehicle safety every three months.

If the ministry suspects a vehicle defect, it will carry out tests to verify the complaint. The automaker would be told to recall a vehicle for free repair if the defect was to be confirmed.

If the automaker refused to comply, the ministry would disclose the name of the defective vehicle.

It will confirm whether automakers will announce vehicle recalls, and a ministry panel will test the safety of the vehicles in question.

“To prevent accidents, we will enhance the system of collecting information and monitoring,” Ishihara said.

The transport ministry will carry out technical verifications and increase the number of staff in charge of vehicle recalls to 17 from the current seven, he said.

The ministry will soon begin enhancing the system of gathering information and monitoring.