(Reuters) — A major subsidiary of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. falsified emissions data for some engines dating back to at least 2003, more than a decade earlier than previously indicated, a company-ordered probe showed Tuesday.
The investigation committee commissioned by the truck and bus manufacturer Hino Motors Ltd. blamed the scandal on an environment where engineers did not feel able to challenge superiors, in a rare criticism of corporate culture in Japan.
The committee, made up of lawyers and a corporate adviser, was set up by Hino this year after it admitted to falsifying data related to emissions and fuel performance for four engines. Its findings, released on Tuesday, describe an inflexible atmosphere where it was difficult for staff to feel “psychological safety”;, the committee said in a report.
A sense of past success on the part of management helped create the culture, said committee chairman Kazuo Sakakibara, a former chief prosecutor at the Osaka district attorney’s office.
“The extent of their past success has made them unable to change or look at themselves objectively, and they have been oblivious to changes in the external environment and values,” he told a briefing.
“The organization has become a poorly organized one where people cannot say what they cannot do.”
Hino’s president, Satoshi Ogiso, apologized to reporters and said management took its responsibility seriously. He said he had received a message from Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, who said the misconduct at Hino betrayed the trust of all stakeholders.
Hino said it would come up with a new corporate governance system within three months.
The automaker said the committee had found evidence of counterfeiting stretching back to at least October 2003, as opposed to the previously disclosed time frame of around 2016.
The Transport Ministry, which revoked the truck maker’s certification of the affected engines in March, said it would conduct an on-site investigation of the company.
Hino recalled close to 47,000 vehicles manufactured between April 2017 and March this year, and Hino said another 20,900 would be recalled.
The committee found no evidence that executives outside the powertrain were aware of the wrongdoing.