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Millons of Toyotas recalled, none in Japan


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This is article delves into how Japan's pro-business culture denies basic consumer protections and has a history of threatening safety activists. It's a good read.

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TOKYO — Feeling her Toyota Mark X station wagon lurch forward at a busy intersection, Masako Sakai slammed on the brakes. But the pedal “had gone limp,” she said. Downshifting didn’t seem to work either.

“I tried everything I could think of,” Mrs. Sakai, 64, said, as she recently recalled the accident that happened six months ago.

Her car surged forward nearly 3,000 feet before slamming into a Mercedes Benz and a taxi, injuring drivers in both those vehicles and breaking Mrs. Sakai’s collarbone.

As shaken as she was by the accident, Mrs. Sakai says she was even more surprised by what happened after. She says that Toyota — from her dealer to headquarters — has not responded to her inquiries, and Japanese authorities have been indifferent to her concerns as a consumer.

Mrs. Sakai says the Tokyo Metropolitan Police urged her to sign a statement saying that she pressed the accelerator by mistake — something she strongly denies. She says the police told her she could have her damaged car back to get it repaired if she made that admission. She declined.

The police say it was a misunderstanding and that they kept her car to carry out their investigation.

But veterans of Japan’s moribund consumer rights movement say that Mrs. Sakai, like many Japanese, is the victim of a Japanese establishment that values Japanese business over Japanese consumers, and the lack of consumer protections here.

“In Japan, there is a phrase: if something smells, put a lid on it,” said Shunkichi Takayama, a Tokyo-based lawyer who has handled complaints related to Toyota vehicles.

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Japan's remaining businesses are all run by an Old Boys club, and no one the lower ranks dare suggest problems with the Divine Wind from the CEO's office. However the safety problems with Toyotas is incredibly overstated.

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Japan's remaining businesses are all run by an Old Boys club, and no one the lower ranks dare suggest problems with the Divine Wind from the CEO's office. However the safety problems with Toyotas is incredibly overstated.

What's been overstated? That this problem was first brought to Toyota's and the NHTSA's attention years ago, yet nothing was done about it? That there have been three confirmed cases of this? That there have been many accounts of similar strange behavior by cars reported? That more than a few people have been reported to return/trade-in their Toyotas to the dealerships because they've had the car accelerate on them to the point their terrified to drive them? That several drivers have been found post-collision with both of their feet firmly planted on the brake? That Toyota has obfuscated the investigation into this problem by the NHTSA? That the NHTSA failed to investigate the affected models fully?

Please, tell me which part has been overstated. I've yet to see where this is reported as widespread or frequent, but merely that the floodgates have opened on what was previously suppressed knowledge.

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What's been overstated? That this problem was first brought to Toyota's and the NHTSA's attention years ago, yet nothing was done about it? That there have been three confirmed cases of this? That there have been many accounts of similar strange behavior by cars reported? That more than a few people have been reported to return/trade-in their Toyotas to the dealerships because they've had the car accelerate on them to the point their terrified to drive them? That several drivers have been found post-collision with both of their feet firmly planted on the brake? That Toyota has obfuscated the investigation into this problem by the NHTSA? That the NHTSA failed to investigate the affected models fully?

Please, tell me which part has been overstated. I've yet to see where this is reported as widespread or frequent, but merely that the floodgates have opened on what was previously suppressed knowledge.

The actual danger of the cars in question is overstated. See the topic I posted today in the Toyota subforum.

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