Hondas US exports to Japan have included the Element (picture)

Honda's US exports to Japan have included the Element (picture)

Honda Motor is to expand an 'investigative' recall to replace potentially lethal air bag inflators worldwide.

Reuters said that would take the total recall of all brands with Takata inflators to over 19m since 2008.

Honda last week added about 2.6m cars in the United States when it expanded nationwide a recall of driver-side air bag inflators that was previously limited to 11 states and territories with hot and humid climates.

Honda is working out which models and how many vehicles would be covered under a similar recall in other markets, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

Honda's US unit said on Monday it would voluntarily expand its regional recall to cover a total of 5.4m vehicles across the US.

On Tuesday, the automaker said it would recall over 134,000 cars in Japan covering six models made between 2002 and 2013 that have Takata driver's side air bags subject to the wider recalls in the United States. Honda will begin the recall in Okinawa at the end of the month.

Various North American-made, right hand drive models were exported from North America to Japan and adjacent territories such as Okinawa in that time period.

According to Reuters, Japan's transport ministry has said that about 200,000 vehicles from Honda and Mazda would be subject to an expanded recall in Japan. Mazda is still considering whether to follow suit.

Unlike the US NHTSA, Japan's regulator cannot order a recall unless the cause of the problem is known. Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta said the ministry would see whether it should change the law to be able to force an 'investigative' recall after gauging the current series of Takata-related recalls, but added there were no immediate plans.

Several automakers have called back millions of cars in the United States to replace Takata-made inflators and investigate the root cause of the problem in what is called a Safety Improvement Campaign, which is different from a typical recall to address known defects.

Takata is struggling to make replacement parts fast enough, and has forecast a loss this business year amid an escalating recall crisis.

According to Reuters, the Nikkei business daily on Tuesday quoted Honda CEO Takanobu Ito as saying the automaker would step in to support Takata if needed, but Honda said he was not specifically referring to financial aid.