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Gov't urges Suzuki to improve compliance after inspection misconduct

In this April 19, 2019 file photo, the head office of Suzuki Motor Corp. is seen in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The transport ministry urged Suzuki Motor Corp. on Friday to enhance compliance after series of inspection violations that led to a recall of over 2 million cars in Japan while issuing an advisory that puts the carmaker under strict supervision.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said it has also asked that the Shizuoka District Court impose fines on Suzuki for violation of the road transport vehicle law. The fine could reach as much as 196.5 million yen ($1.8 million) given the number of affected vehicles.

"It is the result of the low awareness for compliance...and the unhealthy corporate culture where misconduct cases were left unreported," transport minister Keiichi Ishii said in handing the document calling for enhanced compliance to Suzuki President Toshihiro Suzuki at the ministry.

Suzuki is the second company after Subaru Corp. to be directly instructed by the ministry to take preventive measures against inspection malpractice after a ministerial ordinance was revised in October last year to strengthen the ministry's supervisory power over automakers' quality control.

In April, Suzuki reported to the ministry a recall of 2.02 million cars, a record-high in a single domestic filing, after an investigation by a team of external lawyers found that uncertified employees checked car brakes before shipment and some certified workers falsified inspection records over the period from 1981 until January this year.

An investigative report, released April 12 by Suzuki, showed that inspection misconduct continued at the company even after the automaker admitted to improper fuel economy and emissions inspections in August last year.

The cases of Suzuki and Subaru added to growing concern over the quality of vehicles after Suzuki, Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. were also found to have conducted inappropriate inspections in the domestic market last year.

Data rigging has been reported in other manufacturing sectors in Japan including the steel and chemical industries.

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