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The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said Tuesday that Mitsubishi Fuso Bus and Truck Corp. failed to report about in-house documents showing design flaws in its large vehicles might have caused wheels to detach, and threatened to take legal action.

Mitsubishi Fuso told a news conference on March 24 that it had submitted the documents to the ministry in June 2002 during an inspection of the company.

But the ministry denied this and said it might lodge a criminal complaint against Mitsubishi Fuso for allegedly concealing information despite being aware of structural defects in its vehicles.

“If it becomes evident that (Mitsubishi Fuso) made a false report, we will consider taking legal action,” transport minister Nobuteru Ishihara told a regular news conference Tuesday.

Large vehicles of Mitsubishi Fuso, including those manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors Corp., have been involved in 51 cases of wheel detachments since 1992. In one case, a 29-year-old woman was killed and her two sons were injured when a wheel separated from a truck and hit them in Yokohama in January 2002.

Mitsubishi Fuso was established in January 2003 when MMC spun off its truck division. DaimlerChrysler AG and MMC are major shareholders of the truck maker.

Mitsubishi Fuso had blamed the problem on improper maintenance by users. But on March 11 it admitted the design flaws in its wheel hubs, and recalled 112,000 large vehicles on March 24.

The in-house documents were compiled in May 2002 after the company’s working group investigated the hubs of 477 Mitsubishi Fuso large vehicles and found out that design flaws could cause hubs to crack.

The working group was set up to find the cause of wheel detachments following the fatal accident in Yokohama.

Mitsubishi Fuso did not report the findings to the transport ministry until early March, a ministry official said.

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