Japan: authorities mulling safety law upgrades due to Takata’s airbag woes image

Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta said today that his ministry is weighing possible revisions to existing laws in order to better regulate and oversee auto parts makers because of the huge recalls stemming from the Takata airbag issues.

Takata Corp., one of the largest safety auto parts supplier in the world has been involved in a huge number of recalls since 2008, with millions of cars worldwide being called into service to replace faulty airbag inflators – seen prone to failure as they explode with too much force and send metal debris inside the cabin at high velocity. In the US, the federal regulator NHTSA even asked the parts maker to expand the recalls from a regional basis to a nationwide campaign. “Until now, we have been getting reports from automakers but since this is a major issue with great impact I would like to consider whether we need to revise the vehicle law or not,” commented Ohta on Friday during a regular briefing. The 20 million plus recalls that have been recorded globally so far have brought intense scrutiny in both Japan and the United States.

When it comes to Japan, the current rules are highly dependant on automakers to initiate probes of any problems at their parts suppliers, and additionally, legal provisions deny the transport ministry’s right to initiate direct investigations at parts makers. According to an earlier report coming from the Nikkei daily, the planned law updates would have mandatory requirements for the suppliers – such as Takata – to report any glitches or defects to the regulator. So far, the ministry has started negotiations with industry groups and is ready to seek cabinet approval for the revisions by mid-March.

Via Reuters