TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta said his ministry was considering whether to revise existing laws to beef up oversight of auto suppliers in the wake of massive recalls of Takata airbags.
"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," Ohta told reporters at a regular briefing today.
The spate of Takata-related recalls -- about than 24 million cars have been recalled worldwide over faulty airbags since 2008 -- has brought regulatory oversight under scrutiny both in the United States and Japan. Several automakers, particularly Honda Motor Co., have been embroiled in the recall crisis as they recall vehicles equipped with Takata airbags.
Under current rules, Japan's auto regulator relies heavily on automakers to initiate investigation of any problems at their parts suppliers, while legal provisions prevent the transport ministry from investigating the supplier directly.
Ohta said ministry officials have daily meetings to deal with developments in the Takata airbag recalls. But he noted that critics have complained that Takata had not provided enough information to regulators on the issue.
The Nikkei reported earlier today that a planned legal revision would make it mandatory for parts suppliers like Takata to report glitches or defects to the regulator. The ministry has already begun discussions with industry groups and plans to seek cabinet approval for the revised act by mid-March, the paper said.
Officials stepped up their efforts to deal with the airbag fallout last year after Takata and executives of major automakers were called to testify in U.S. Congress. Japan has set up a special task force to speed up collection of potentially defective airbags.