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Japanese Minister: Mitsubishi Scandal Threatens Auto Industry

Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa, right, and vice president Ryugo Nakao bow at the start of a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Japan's transport minister says he wants Mitsubishi to be honest with its customers after revelations the company manipulated fuel efficiency data on more than 620,000 cars.

Keiichi Ishii said Friday he wants the company "to respond with sincerity" to customers' questions. He said Mitsubishi should also consider the possibility of buying back the cars in question.

"This is a serious problem that could lead to the loss of trust in our country's auto industry," the transport minister said.

Reuters news agency is reporting an official at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked Mitsubishi for information on vehicles sold in the U.S.

On Thursday, Japanese investigators visited a Mitsubishi motors facility in Nagoya after the company admitted to the falsification of mileage data.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government wants to "reveal the extent of the inaccuracies as soon as possible" and deal with the situation in a "strict manner."

Mitsubishi said employees, who were not identified, were responsible for cheating the efficiency tests, making it seem like the cars got better fuel economy by up to 10 percent.

The vehicles are so-called mini-cars popular in Japan partially because of their gas mileage. Some affected models are ones that Mitsubishi manufactures for Nissan.

Mitsubishi's stock declined 13 percent Friday. At one point shares were down 16 percent. The company's stock crashed 20 percent Thursday, after falling 15 percent Wednesday.