The government will look into 38 complaints filed between 2007 and 2009 over sudden acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles in Japan, transport minister Seiji Maehara said Wednesday.
The domestic scrutiny of the auto giant comes as the company’s president, Akio Toyoda, faces tough questioning at a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington later Wednesday. The hearing follows another congressional session on a recent spate of recalls by the automaker held a day earlier.
During the three years, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry received 134 complaints on acceleration, of which Toyota vehicles made up 28.3 percent.
“The proportion is in line with vehicle ownership, so it’s not a figure that is particularly high for Toyota cars,” Maehara said. “We do hope to firmly investigate Toyota vehicles.”
Toyota is the biggest auto seller in Japan.
He also called on Toyoda “to adhere to a stance of safety protection” when testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives committee.
Other government officials meanwhile urged Toyota to work hard to regain the confidence of the American people.
“As a manufacturer, (Toyota) should take seriously the fact that it had quality defects and manage to restore the trust of the people in the United States, without making rash decisions,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said at a news conference.
Hirano declined comment on speculation that reaction to the safety issue in the United States may be partly politically motivated.
“I get the general impression that Toyota answered in a sincere manner with the information it currently has at hand,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima told reporters on Tuesday’s hearing attended by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. President Jim Lentz.
Naoshima further urged Toyoda to respond at the upcoming hearing “with a frank and sincere stance so as to reassure anxious U.S. consumers and to recover their confidence.”
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