Transport minister Keiichi Ishii said Tuesday that Nissan Motor Co. dealt inappropriately with his ministry’s inspection in September where it was first discovered the automaker had been using unauthorized workers to conduct final car tests.
Ishii did not elaborate on the transgression, only saying it could still impact future issues surrounding the situation.
According to sources close to the matter, Nissan provided the ministry with an inaccurate explanation about its final car tests.
On whether the ministry will file a criminal complaint over the company’s string of irregularities, Ishii said he “will respond harshly if specific facts are confirmed.”
He slammed Nissan for undermining training procedures for authorized workers, calling it “extremely inappropriate.”
Meanwhile, Nissan resumed production and shipment at five of its domestic plants Tuesday.
Nissan announced the suspension of car shipments and production at all six domestic assembly plants on Oct. 19 after it found that improper car tests had continued even after it announced a recall when such misconduct first came to light in September.
Among the plants where production and shipments resumed were the Oppama plant and Nissan Shatai Co.’s Shonan plant in Kanagawa Prefecture, and the Nissan Kyushu plant in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Operations are likely to resume at its Auto Works Kyoto plant after the transport ministry confirms that car inspection systems have improved.
To prevent recurrences of such lapses, Nissan will break up the inspection process so that the final test is carried out in a separate location from other inspection sites in the plant. External assessors will also review the inspection process once a week.
As the system will only allow certified workers to do final checks, the pace of production is likely to fall considerably for the interim.
Since the malpractice surfaced, Nissan has recalled around 1.2 million vehicles for re-inspection. It is set to report to the transport ministry soon what lay behind the unauthorized inspections.