WASHINGTON -- The Toshiba Corp. apologized Monday to 'the American people, the administration and Congress' for the sale of secret U.S. submarine technology to the Soviet Union.
The Japanese firm ran full-page ads Monday in scores of newspapers nationwide and the apology will appear in 91 newspapers by Tuesday, said Tako Hayashida, vice president and corporate secretary of Toshiba.
The Pentagon said the sale damaged U.S. security, and its disclosure touched off an explosion of anger against Toshiba on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers threatened a ban on Toshiba imports and held rallies urging Americans to boycott Toshiba, which makes lap-top computers, televisions, photocopiers, video-cassette recorders and semiconductors.
'Toshiba Corporation shares the shock and anger of the American people, the administration and Congress at the recent conduct of one of our 50 major subsidiaries, Toshiba Machine Company,' the ad said.
The 'conduct' by TMC involved the sale to the Soviet Union of at least four huge machines for milling submarine propellers, enabling Soviet submarines to run as quietly as U.S. subs, making them harder to detect.
Accompanying the machines were computer programs to run them, which were sold by Kongsberg Vapenfabrik, a Norwegian government-owned company.
The ad declared the parent 'Toshiba Corporation had no knowledge of this unauthorized action by TMC. ... Nevertheless, Toshiba Corporation profoundly apologizes for these past actions by a subsidiary of Toshiba.'
In a 92-5 vote, the Senate approved a two- to five-year ban last month on Toshiba imports and those made by the Norwegian firm and included the measure in its version of the trade bill. Similar bans are pending in the House, though not in its trade bill.
An import ban would require President Reagan's signature, which is considered unlikely.
In response to the Senate vote and rallies, Toshiba issued a veiled warning July 2 that an import ban could affect more than $1 billion in sales and could lead to the layoff of some of its 4,000 employees in the United States.
The Toshiba ad noted: 'Both the chairman and the president of Toshiba Corporation have resigned. For the Japanese business world, this is the highest form of apology.' The ad pledges 'corrective measures' have been taken and 'wrongdoers are now being prosecuted' in Japan.
Toshiba, which reported $22.6 billion in sales worldwide in the fiscal year that ended March 31, lists total U.S. sales of $2 billion. The firm has plants in Lebanon, Tenn., Houston and Sunnyvale and Irvine, Calif.