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Hiroshi Nakamura heard the news early Saturday morning last month from a U.S. colleague: Volkswagen AG had just admitted to years of cheating on emissions tests.

Nakamura wasn’t sure, but he had a hunch that his employer, Horiba Ltd., an obscure Japanese manufacturer that makes about 70 percent of the world’s auto emissions testing systems, had played a key role in breakrng a scandal involving one of the giants of the industry. Volkswagen, whose stock has lost more than one-third of its value since the news broke Sept. 18, out- employs Horiba by almost 100-to-1.

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