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Japanese car manufacturers check products for radiation to allay foreign buyers' fears

Meanwhile, Toyota says its car production won’t return to normal capacity for months, due to a shortage of parts after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

Workers at a Honda plant in Sayama, north of Tokyo, on 18 April, 2011.
Workers at a Honda plant in Sayama, north of Tokyo, on 18 April, 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

JAPANESE CAR MANUFACTURERS have begun checking the level of radiation on cars to be exported from the country in a bid to ease worries among foreign consumers, an industry group said today.

The automakers will inspect radiation inside cars and on tyres before shipment, said Hirokazu Furukawa, a spokesman for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Around 10 cars out every 5,000 are being checked for radiation and no radiation has been detected so far on cars to be exported from Japan, he said.

“Some foreign consumers voiced concern over radiation. We want to erase their worries by taking this measure,” he said. However, Furukawa said he has not seen a fall in Japanese car sales abroad due to radiation concerns.

Japan has been struggling to contain radiation leaks since a tsunami on March 11 damaged a coastal nuclear power plant in northern Japan, causing radiation leaks. Furukawa said automakers are currently checking the level of radiation on cars to be shipped from eight ports.

The carmakers will continue the radiation check on vehicles until the nuclear crisis subsides.

Toyota said it has checked the level of radiation on 30 cars to be shipped to the US; around 46 per cent of Toyota cars made in Japan last year were shipped for export. Around 30 per cent of Honda cars made in Japan are for export, and over 50 per cent Nissan’s.

Delays

Toyota said today that its global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from last month’s earthquake and tsunami, won’t return to normal until November or December.

“To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle by us, I sincerely apologise for the enormous delay in delivery,” Toyoda said in a statement released before a press conference.

Toyota, the world’s number one car manufacturer last year, says the 11 March disasters have already caused a production loss of 260,000 cars. Earlier this week, the company resumed car production at all of its plants in Japan for the first time since the disasters, but the plants are operating at half-capacity due to parts shortages.

- AP

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