• Kyodo

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The transport ministry expressed fears Thursday that recalls related to potentially defective air bags produced by Tokyo-based auto parts supplier Takata Corp. could affect more than 3 million cars in the country.

More than 13 million cars worldwide have been recalled since 2008, including about 2.8 million in Japan, in connection with Takata’s air bags, whose inflators have been linked to several deaths in the United States and Malaysia.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said Toyota Motor Corp. was recalling an additional 185,093 vehicles in Japan, as it was possible inflators of air bags on the front passenger-side could explode too forcefully, releasing metal fragments.

The latest recall by the world’s biggest carmaker affects 19 models, including the Corolla compact car, Alphard G and Noah minivans and Will Cypha hatchback. The vehicles that are subject to the recall were produced between September 2002 and December 2003.

The number of vehicles abroad affected by the recall has yet to be confirmed, Toyota said.

The move came after Toyota found that metal fragments were launched when a Takata-made air bag on the front passenger side of a 2003-model Will Cypha was deployed at a scrapyard in Gifu Prefecture last month, the ministry said. There were no injuries at the time.

Toyota made the decision as the cause of the potential problem is unknown. The recall covers cars equipped with the same type of inflator as the one used in the Will Cypha.

Toyota said it may run short of replacement parts, and in that case will disable the air bag system.

The ministry said it has instructed other carmakers to check whether their vehicles use the same type of inflators.

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