• Kyodo

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U.S. President Barack Obama urged Toyota Motor Corp. to “act decisively” in the disclosure of safety issues following massive global recalls reaching around 8 million vehicles, according to the online edition of BusinessWeek on Thursday.

“Every automaker has an obligation when public safety is a concern to come forward quickly and decisively when problems are identified,” Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

“We don’t yet know whether that happened with Toyota. That’s going to be investigated,” he added in his first public comments on the recent spate of safety troubles dogging the Japanese auto giant.

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California and key member of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, urged Toyota President Akio Toyoda to testify before the Feb. 24 congressional committee hearing.

He added he would “fully support” a subpoena to force the appearance of Toyota’s top executive if needed.

“Whether it is for a microprocessor engineer or the top executive, we have a duty to determine what Toyota knew, when they knew it and if they met their full obligation of disclosure to U.S. regulators and the American people,” Issa said in a letter to Rep. Edolphus Towns, a Democrat from New York chairing the committee.

In a press conference earlier this week, Toyoda said he wants to visit the United States to give an explanation in his “own words” to the U.S. government and congressional members on the recalls that have tarnished the carmaker’s reputation for quality.

Sources earlier said he plans to make the visit in early March.

In the interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Obama also said the automaker will recover from the current woes, the latest of which includes a recall of about 437,000 vehicles worldwide to repair brake problems in its best-selling Prius and other hybrids.

“Obviously, Toyota has been an extraordinary automaker for a very long time, and I suspect that they will continue to be, despite this recent glitch,” Obama said.

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