Second Japanese Toilet Manufacturer Admits Its Product Placed Buttocks at Risk

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The blazing-bidet scandal continues to grow in Japan, with the country’s second-largest toilet maker now joining the market leader, Toto Ltd., in admitting that it has been aware for years of defects in its "washlet" products.

INAX Corp. said today that it knew of at least seven cases of its washlets overheating, emitting smoke or catching on fire between 1991 and 2005, but did not make the incidents public.  It had recalled 30,000 washlets in 1985 for similar problems, but the seven cases obviously post-dated the recall.  INAX said that none of the seven incidents involved personal injury and that it had reported them to the appropriate government ministry.

The article did not say which government ministry would be the appropriate one to receive such a report.

Coincidentally, INAX made the incidents public only after its competitor had already publicly apologized to consumers for its own washlet problem.  Toto apologized earlier this week and said it would check and repair about 180,000 washlets to correct a defect that might potentially result in a very inconveniently timed fire.

A Toto Ltd. representative indicates
the product’s "blowtorch" feature, which
she said the company would be phasing out.

Toto’s spokesperson, Yasuhiko Matsumoto, said that the company had received over 100,000 telephone calls since Monday, and that it encouraged its customers to contact the company if they had any concerns.  But Matsumoto reasserted his company’s commitment to the problematic extending-bidet feature, which he said had been important to the company’s success and, indeed, part of its mission: "We’ve been promoting a culture of washing one’s backside since 1980," he said, "and that’s given us a 60 percent market share."  I can’t find any evidence that Toto has ever actually used the slogan,

Washing One’s Backside Since 1980!

but I would strongly encourage it to do so.  Does your company’s mission statement promote a culture of washing one’s backside?  If not, please amend it without delay.

Link: Reuters via Yahoo! News
Link: Present a Paper at the 2007 World Toilet Summit