Bridgestone Corp. President Yoichiro Kaizaki apologized Thursday at the company’s shareholders’ meeting for last year’s voluntary recall of millions of defective tires produced by its U.S. subsidiary.

“I apologize to all shareholders for making you worried,” Kaizaki said in Tokyo, after making all members of the board stand up.

Reflecting their interest in the recall, 294 shareholders took part in this year’s meeting, making it last nearly two hours because of the number of questions. Last year’s meeting lasted about 30 minutes with 180 people present.

After the company explained the agenda, nine shareholders posed questions, mainly about the investigation into the tire defects and compensation suits filed in the United States involving the tires.

A 47-year-old shareholder, attending the meeting for the first time, said it is important for the company to disclose information once it has caused a problem, adding he is interested in quality control.

In August, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced a recall of 6.5 million ATX and Wilderness ATX tires following road deaths, which rose to more than 100, allegedly caused by the tread peeling off the tires.

Bridgestone, Japan’s biggest tire maker for cars, posted an 80 percent year-on-year decline in consolidated net profit to 17.74 billion yen in the business year that ended in December, due mainly to the recall, which resulted in an extraordinary loss of 81.42 billion yen.

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