The three automakers admitted conducting improper inspections after the ministry ordered 23 Japanese auto and motorbike manufacturers to examine their inspection procedures in July after similar falsifications were found at Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp.in their fuel economy data at final product quality checks. The ministry looked at tests conducted over different periods at all three automakers.
In the Japanese cases, the carmakers have not broken any laws or prompted massive recalls.
The report is the latest episode in a growing list of data falsifications that have tarnished the image of Japan's manufacturing industry, known for its high-quality and efficient production.
The company's emissions testing system "was not set up to automatically invalidate results when a speed trace error occurred", it explained, while the level of deviation permitted under the test was at the discretion of each individual inspector.
"Mishandlings found in so many vehicles were a serious problem, that we take very seriously", Suzuki Motor President Toshihiro Suzuki said, according to Reuters, apologizing for the trouble caused to customers and business partners. For Yamaha Motor, around 2 percent of 335 units chosen for the sampling inspection had not gone through appropriate testing since January 2016, according to the ministry.
Suzuki and Yamaha shares fell 6 and 5 percent, respectively, and Mazda shares were down 1 percent, underperforming a steady benchmark Nikkei average.
Kobe Steel, Mitsubishi Materials Corp and Toray Industries - all key suppliers of motor parts to global manufacturers - admitted to product data fabrication a year ago.
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