Takata chief publicly apologizes for airbag crisis and fatalities image

Japan’s Takata Corp. has been entrenched in a massive global safety crisis and its president, Shigehisa Takada, took the step of publicly apologizing for the eight fatalities and hundreds of injuries linked to the defective parts.

Takada, 49, bowed and apologized during a press briefing in Tokyo that followed the firm’s yearly shareholders meeting on Thursday. He added the auto safety parts manufacturer was assessing solutions to help the victims, including setting up a fund to compensate them, in a move similar to GM’s ignition switch victims’ compensation program. “I apologize for not having been able to communicate directly earlier, and also apologize for people who died or were injured,” Takada said. “I feel sorry our products hurt customers, despite the fact that we are a supplier of safety products.” The executive previously issued public apologies through written statements and print advertisements in U.S. newspapers. He is the grandson of the Japanese supplier’s founder and his public appearance came hours after Toyota and Nissan, two of its largest auto customers, announced they would recall another three million units for airbag issues.

So far, all the deaths related to the Takata airbag inflators, which can explode with too much force and send metal shards and other debris inside the cabin at high velocity, have occurred in Honda manufactured cars, the automaker being Takata’s biggest customer, while injuries have passed the 100 mark. The company also said it would continue to use as a propellant ammonium nitrate, according to Senior Vice President Hiroshi Shimizu, though the chemical has been cited on numerous occasions as a cause of concern.