More than three million vehicles made by major Japanese manufacturers will be recalled worldwide because of possible problems with airbags, the companies have said.
Four carmakers - Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda - said separately on Thursday that they combined would recall more than three million vehicles in accordance with local regulations, all citing the same malfunction of passenger-side airbags.
[abnormal inflation] could also burn part of the vehicle's inside and cause fire
A Toyota spokesman said his company alone was recalling a total of 1.73 million vehicles, manufactured between November 2000 and March 2004 in Japan or abroad, due to a defect in airbags.
Toyota USA said in a statement it was recalling 170,000 vehicles in the United States, out of the company's total recall.
"The involved vehicles are equipped with front passenger airbag inflators which could have been assembled with improperly manufactured propellant wafers," the statement said.
"Improperly manufactured propellant wafers could cause the inflator to rupture and the front-passenger airbag to deploy abnormally in the event of a crash."
The company's spokesman in Japan said this abnormal inflation "could also burn part of the vehicle's inside and cause fire".
However, he said, there were no recorded instances of this happening.
Nissan and Honda released statements giving similar explanations.
A Nissan spokeswoman said the company was recalling a total of 480,000 vehicles globally, all of which were manufactured in Japan between August 2000 and January 2004.
Toyota and Nissan said the airbags were made by Tokyo-based Takata Corp., while the ministry said the airbag parts were supplied by a single company but declined to disclose the name.
"This is a global recall that affects all regions where we do our business," said a spokeswoman with Honda, which is recalling 1.135 million vehicles.
Mazda said its recall target would reach 45,463 units worldwide, including 4,384 at home.
"We will recall the cars at home while taking the same action in accordance with local regulations of each country," a company spokeswoman said.
Its shares dropped nine percent to 1,819 yen on Thursday.