Massage chairs recalled after fires

Wednesday, January 31, 2007; 10:50 AM

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it will recall thousands of massage chairs for free tests and repairs, saying the chairs could catch fire.

The maker of Panasonic-brand goods said fires destroyed two massage chairs in December and January when power cords inside the chairs' motors emitted sparks.

Such fires would only occur in rare cases, said the maker of the chairs, Matsushita Electric Works, which is 51 percent-owned by Matsushita Electric.

The two incidents occurred in demo chairs after repeated use by customers, Matsushita Electric Works spokesman Yukio Kinashi said.

No one was injured in the two cases, he said.

Top-end massage chairs sell for anywhere between 200,000 yen ($1,645) and 400,000 yen in Japan, but account for a negligible proportion of total annual sales of about 1.6 trillion yen at Matsushita Electric Works, which makes lighting and building products.

The company is still calculating the cost of recalling a total 68,762 chairs, which were manufactured between June 2005 and January 2007 and shipped both domestically and to other parts of Asia, but the recall will not affect earnings, Kinashi said.

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