Japan worried that Toyota woes could hurt US ties
Toyota’s woes could strain US-Japan ties as pressure builds for CEO to appear in Washington
TOKYO (AP) — As pressure intensifies for Toyota’s chief to testify before Congress about the automaker’s safety lapses, Japanese political leaders and experts worry that the problem — if handled poorly — could damage ties between the two nations.
Relations between Washington and Tokyo are already strained by a dispute between the two governments over the relocation of a key U.S. Marine base on the southern island of Okinawa.
Political tension rose a notch Thursday when a Republican in the House of Representatives said he would support issuing a subpoena to compel Toyota President Akio Toyoda to appear before congressional committees later this month to examine the company’s string of safety problems.
Toyota said Toyoda is expected to visit the U.S. in early March, but the company declined to confirm Japanese media reports that he would attend the Washington hearings. Toyota’s North American head, Yoshimi Inaba, will appear before the committees, the company said.
Even before the world’s biggest automaker announced its latest recall Tuesday of nearly 440,000 Prius and other hybrids, bringing its global total to 8.5 million vehicles for faulty gas pedals and brakes, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada expressed concern about that the problem could become a political headache.