Major Japanese newspapers lashed out at Toyota Motor's slow response to safety problems with its cars and warned the fiasco could hurt the country's hard-won reputation for trustworthy technology.
Toyota has begun to repair some of the millions of vehicles recalled due to faulty accelerators, and is deciding whether to call back hundreds of thousands of its latest Prius hybrids owing to a separate flaw in the braking system.
Company president Akio Toyoda said on Feb. 5 he was "deeply sorry" for the string of quality issues that has tarnished the group's reputation and triggered a class action lawsuit in the United States.
But the Asahi Shimbun decried Toyota's response to the troubles as "utterly slow" and noted that the Toyota management had yet to officially admit the flaws in its marquee Prius model.
"It is vital to take swift action to complaints related to human lives," the influential daily said in an editorial. "The world is watching how Toyota will show its humility by using the series of troubles as lessons for production of safe cars."
During his first conference on the crisis, Toyoda denied the company had covered up safety problems and said the cars were safe to drive.
But the Yomiuri Shimbun said "there is no denying Toyota was overconfident about its models' high-tech equipment, and lightly treated complaints from users."
"Failure to properly deal with the current fiasco could deal a blow to the international trust in Japan's manufacturing technology," the best-selling daily said in an editorial.
"We hope Toyota humbly accepts the criticism leveled against it and will do all it can to ensure the safety and high quality of its vehicles," it concluded.