The New York Times reports that Toyota has done no recalls in Japan for car unexpected acceleration problems.
Toyota has recalled eight million cars outside Japan because of unexpected acceleration and other problems, but has insisted that there are no systemic problems with its cars sold in Japan. The company recalled the Prius for a brake problem earlier this year.
Critics say many companies benefit from Japanís weak consumer protections. (The country has only one full-time automobile recall investigator, supported by 15 others on limited contracts.)
One lady in the article came under pressure by police to sign a document stating that her car accident was caused by her mistakenly stepping on the gas pedal. She claims she didn't make that mistake.
Japan's equivalent of Ralph Nader was convicted of blackmail for his efforts to force Japanese car companies to fix their safety defects.
The most active was the Japan Automobile Consumers Union, led by Fumio Matsuda, a former Nissan engineer often referred to as the Ralph Nader of Japan. But the automakers fought back with a campaign discrediting the activists as dangerous agitators. Mr. Matsuda and his lawyer were soon arrested and charged with blackmail. They fought the charges to Japanís highest court, but lost.
The willingness of Japanese to conform has costs as well as benefits. One of the costs is weak consumer protection. The Japanese government is just now taking some steps toward more monitoring and investigation of Japanese car companies. This comes 40+ years after the US government got serious about car design defect problems. Ralph Nader didn't have to become a convicted felon in order to spark that change.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2010 March 06 11:07 AM Culture Compared|