With the U.S. government stepping up pressure on the carmaker, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada urged Toyota Motor Corp. to quickly deal with the problems, warning of damage to the image of Japan Inc.
Toyota's safety defects have hurt global trust in Japanese products, and the automaker's response to the crisis has "lacked customer focus," Japanese cabinet ministers charged on Feb. 5.
"Of course, diplomatically, it's not an issue of a single company," Okada said. "This is a problem for the whole of the Japanese auto industry, as well as about trust in Japanese products."
Transport Minister Seiji Maehara in a separate press briefing said Toyota had told the government that problems with the Prius braking system were not a major problem because they were related to software.
But Maehara reportedly said: "That is for the users to decide, and it's not a matter that can be dismissed as a format question. I believe Toyota's response is slightly lacking in customer focus."