TOKYO (July 21, 2011)—Japanese fair trade regulators have raided the offices of Toyota Group supplier Denso Corp. as part of a reported probe into price fixing by Japanese auto parts makers.
Denso confirmed the investigation in a brief statement saying that officials from the Japan Fair Trade Commission visited the supplier's world headquarters in the city of Kariya, outside Nagoya, as well as several sales offices elsewhere in the country.
The July 20 probe related to Japan's anti-monopoly act and the “sales of certain automotive components,” Denso said. The company said it was cooperating with authorities.
The raid was part of a wider investigation targeting Denso and six other parts makers on suspicion they had colluded since 2002 to set prices and decide which companies would win contracts before bidding from auto makers, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.
The other companies involved are Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd., Calsonic Kansei Corp., Mitsuba Corp., T.RAD Co. and Denso subsidiary Asmo Co., Kyodo said. The alleged cartel aimed to fix prices on windshield wipers, radiators, engine starters and alternators, the report said.
Denso, the world's second-largest auto parts maker, is 23-percent owned by Toyota.
It was unclear if the current investigation was related to a 2010 FBI antitrust probe into the U.S. operations of Denso and fellow Japanese suppliers Yazaki Corp. and Tokai Rika Co.