Japan orders Toyota, Mazda and other carmakers to probe diesel car emissions after Volkswagen scandal

A visitor walking past Toyota Motor's cars displayed at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan.
A visitor walking past Toyota Motor's cars displayed at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan's transport ministry has ordered carmakers to investigate whether their diesel vehicles meet the country's emission norms after Volkswagen admitted to rigging some cars to cheat on US tests.

The ministry has asked carmakers including Toyota Motor, Mazda Motor and Volkswagen to submit reports of their probes by the end of this week, Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday (Sept 29). The government is considering changing the method it uses to test diesel engines, Mr Ohta said, without being more specific.

Japan joins South Korea, France and the UK among countries investigating compliance by carmakers after Volkswagen's revelation that it used software that obfuscates how much its diesel-engine cars pollute. It led to the carmaker's former chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn stepping down and the company's market value plunging 27 billion euros (S$43.55 billion).

The German automaker doesn't sell diesel cars through its official dealer networks in Japan, but individual buyers have imported about 230 Volkswagen and Audi cars since 2008, according to Mr Ohta. The ministry is checking whether these vehicles need to be recalled and fixed.

Volkswagen, the best-selling foreign brand in Japan last year, is working with authorities and is monitoring the impact on its brand image and sales, Hiromu Hatanaka, a Tokyo-based spokesman of the company, said by phone.