• Kyodo

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The transport ministry has told Subaru Corp. that the automaker will be placed under strict supervision following a series of quality inspection scandals.

“It is extremely regrettable for such a situation to have been caused that has undermined trust,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii said Wednesday as he handed a document urging Subaru to enforce preventive measures to its President Tomomi Nakamura. “For the time being, we will place (the company) under strict supervision.”

The measure is the first such order to have been issued since the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism changed part of its ministerial ordinance in October. The ministry is now able to direct automakers to take measures to prevent faulty or inadequate quality checks.

The action comes amid growing concern over the quality of vehicles in Japan, after Subaru, Nissan Motor Co., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. were found to have conducted inspections inappropriately at domestic plants last year. Data rigging has also been reported in other manufacturing sectors here, including the steel and chemical industries.

The advisory issued to Subaru includes orders to regularly review the way inspections are conducted on completed vehicles, and to report every quarter on the implementation of preventive measures being taken.

Monetary penalties could be imposed if the government finds additional actions are necessary. If further misconduct is found, Subaru could be banned from selling new vehicles on the domestic market.

“We have caused great concern. We deeply regret it and will make the utmost effort to ensure this kind of thing will never happen again,” Nakamura said. “We’d like to think about what we can do and will carry that out.”

The automaker came under fire after admitting in October last year that unauthorized staff had conducted vehicle inspections at two domestic plants for more than 30 years.

That was followed by the revelation in March that mileage and emissions data were systematically rigged at a plant and that the malpractice may have started around 2002.

The company also admitted to brake check violations in September.

The disclosure led to the recall of a total of 530,000 vehicles in Japan, according to the automaker.

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