Japan officials visit Toyota HQ over testing scandal

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Japanese transport officials inspected Toyota’s headquarters Tuesday after the top-selling automaker and four others including Honda and Mazda admitted failure to fully comply with national vehicle inspection standards.

Five representatives visited the offices in central Aichi region to probe breaches declared by the company related to domestic shipment certifications.

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The transport ministry on Monday told five Japanese auto giants -- Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Suzuki and Yamaha -- to stop delivering the affected vehicle models within Japan.

Toyota and others have stressed that the vehicles in question are safe and in some cases passed internal tests that were stricter than the standardized requirements.

“We will carry out on-site inspections” at each of the companies, transport minister Tetsuo Saito told reporters.

“These acts erode the trust of vehicle users and shake the very foundation of the vehicle certification system. It is extremely regrettable,” he said on Tuesday.

The sprawling scandal has sparked soul-searching within the country’s huge auto industry, following safety test irregularities at Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu.

That firm in December admitted manipulating tests since at least 1989 and the government ordered it to halt all factory operations -- dealing a blow to the world’s number four economy.

Its shipments resumed in April after the order was lifted.

In the wake of the Daihatsu scandal, the transport ministry told 85 automakers and parts suppliers to seek out and report breaches related to certification applications.

Then companies including Toyota separately said they had not followed Japanese standards to the letter.

The finance and industry ministers have voiced concerns about the incident’s impact on the economy, including how shipment suspensions could affect parts suppliers.

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