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Toyota halts some shipments as Japan’s auto safety scandal widens

Tokyo A safety test scandal at Japanese automakers widened Monday, with Toyota Motor and Mazda both halting shipments of some vehicles after Japan’s transport ministry found irregularities in applications to certify certain models.

The irregularities were also found in applications from Honda (HMC), Suzuki and Yamaha Motor, the ministry said. The automakers were found to have submitted incorrect or manipulated safety test data when they applied for certification of the vehicles.

The ministry ordered Toyota (TM), the world’s biggest carmaker by the number of vehicles sold,Mazda and Yamaha to suspend shipments of some vehicles.

The latest revelations came after the ministry askedautomakers in January to investigate certification applications following a safety test scandal at Toyota’s Daihatsu compact car unit that emerged last year.

Monday’s developments are also likely to heighten focus on Toyota’s annual general meeting later this month. Influential proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis have recommended shareholders vote against re-electing Akio Toyoda as chairman at the meeting.

In a report to shareholders, ISS singled out the “spate of certification irregularities” at the Toyota Group.

Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, told journalists Monday: “As the person in charge of the Toyota Group, I would like to sincerely apologize to our customers, to car fans, and all stakeholders for this.”

He said the cars had not gonethrough the correct certification process before being sold. Toyota said it hadtemporarily halted shipments and sales of three car models made in Japan.

The scandals at the automakers are proving to be a sore point for the Japanese government, which