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The government urged paper shredder manufacturers Wednesday to work out measures to prevent accidents following two cases earlier this year in which two 2-year-old children lost fingers in the machines.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry asked the Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association and the All Japan Stationery Association to investigate whether similar accidents had occurred and to warn consumers about the risks.

On March 10, a 2-year-old girl in Shizuoka lost nine fingers when she got her hands caught in a SCA-410D office-use shredder made by Sendai-based Irisohyama Inc. that was in her home, according to METI.

On July 15, a 2-year-old boy lost two fingers from his left hand when they were caught in a DS-4000 shredder made by Carl Mfg. Co. in Tokyo, at his home, METI said.

The ministry has ordered electric goods makers to report accidents caused by their products within a week of their occurrence, as stipulated by the Electric Appliance and Material Safety Law.

Irisohyama did not report the March accident to METI. The ministry learned about the mishap in July when it was informed by a consumer affairs center in Shizuoka.

The two companies ran advertisements in newspapers Wednesday offering to narrow the shredders’ slots for paper insertion free of charge to prevent accidents.

The two companies have sold a combined 50,000 of the two shredder types.

The two models carry a notice urging that the machines be kept out of the reach of children, but the notice is not sufficient, METI said.

According to the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation, a government-backed body to collect and assess technology information, a 19-month-old infant in Kyoto Prefecture was seriously injured in July 2000 by a shredder.

In Japan, home use of shredders has been on the rise in recent years given the increasing number of criminal cases involving personal information leaks. Although many households now shred gas bills, telephone bills and junk mail before dumping them, safety steps have been left behind, according to METI.

METI officials said shredders are required to have a grill or other safety devices to prevent users from touching the blades by accident. But there is no specification requirements regarding the slot for paper insertion, the officials said.

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