Japan’s ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism (MLIT) has stepped up its investigation into vehicle certification malpractice by the country’s automakers, to include Honda, Mazda, Suzuki and Yamaha.

MLIT investigators were seen entering headquarters buildings of Honda and Mazda on Monday to conduct on site investigations, following similar visits to the Suzuki and Yamaha offices last week.

This came after a lengthy, well publicised investigation into Toyota Motor Corporation and its subsidiaries last year, after which the MLIT instructed 85 automakers and component suppliers in the country to declare whether they had improperly obtained test certifications required for mass production.

A further 38 models manufactured by five companies, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, were found to have obtained test certifications through malpractice including six models currently in production.

These are five passenger vehicle models currently on the market, sold under the Toyota and Mazda brands – the Toyota Corolla Fielder, Corolla Axio, Yaris Cross, Mazda Roadster RF and Mazda 2.

The automakers were ordered to halt shipments last week until they could prove these models meet the country’s minimum safety and environmental performance standards.

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Honda admitted to improperly conducting tests on 22 models between 2009 and 2017 but none of those are still in production.

According to local reports, some cases of misconduct were found to be malicious, while in other cases more stringent tests than those specified by the government were performed but were still deemed unacceptable, according to the automakers.

The ministry had yet to decide what administrative sanctions it would impose to punish the automakers and prevent the fraud from recurring.

While the automakers involved claimed their products were safe and reliable, the malpractice raised doubts about reliability and standards within Japan’s auto industry.

The scandal emerged at a time when the industry was coming under intensifying competition from Chinese and South Korean automakers worldwide.