Automakers in Japan to probe possible new problem in Takata air bags

Japan's transport ministry has ordered automakers to look into the safety of their products after a new problem seems to have been discovered in air bags produced by the now-defunct Takata Corp.
The order was issued after a fatal car accident in Australia this year is believed to have been caused by the malfunction of a Takata air-bag inflator.
Seven automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co, and Mazda Motor Corp, that used the same air-bag inflator, received the order.
The inflator, manufactured between 1995 and 1999, is different from the one blamed for earlier massive worldwide recalls, the ministry said.
In the latest case, the reason for the bag exploding and spreading metal fragments remains unknown.
The four other automakers that received the order are Suzuki Motor Corp, Mitsubishi Motors Corp, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp, and BMW AG's Japan unit.
The seven automakers have been asked to report to the ministry whether they need to recall any vehicles.
Australian transport safety authorities said last month they were informed by BMW of a voluntary recall of some of its models after the discovery of the suspected new defect.
Besides the fatal accident, there was another incident in Australia this year that resulted in a serious injury that is believed to have been due to a malfunction of the inflator.
Similar accidents have also occurred in the United States and Cyprus, but the ministry said so far it has received no such reports domestically.
About 150,000 cars equipped with the air bags in question, are estimated to be in use in Japan, according to the ministry.
In 2017, Takata filed for bankruptcy with debts of over 1 trillion yen ($9.2 billion) after its faulty air bags led to the deaths of more than 20 people and massive recalls around the world.
That was the biggest bankruptcy for a Japanese manufacturer in the postwar era.
In November the same year, Takata reached a $1.588 billion asset sale agreement with U.S. auto parts maker Key Safety Systems, later renamed Joyson Safety Systems.

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