• Owners of cars fitted with Takata airbags to be contacted
  • Ministry to conduct an attitude survey in push for replacement

Japan’s transport ministry will take the unprecedented step of writing directly to car owners who haven’t replaced air bags made by Takata Corp. as it seeks to prevent injuries and deaths from the devices.

The government will start the direct mail campaign this month, Nobuhito Kiuchi, an official in the transport ministry, said by telephone Friday. It has also started visiting the homes of some of the owners with representatives of automakers to conduct an attitude survey, he said. The ministry first said it will initiate these measures in a statement dated April 28 on its website.

Japan is stepping up efforts to ensure all the recalled air bags are replaced as soon as possible amid a widening of recalls in the U.S. and a grim reminder that a failure to do so may result in death. Malaysia this week reported two additional fatalities linked to ruptured Takata inflators. In each case, the air bags in the vehicles hadn’t been fixed despite the vehicles being included in recalls. At least 13 deaths are now linked to the faulty devices, which have exploded with too much force and sent flying shrapnel into occupants.

As many as 12.6 million vehicles have been recalled since 2009 in Japan, with 54 percent of these fixed as of end of March. The direct contact by the ministry will cover 36,602 vehicles, out of a total of 257,312 units.

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