iPod Nano is a fire hazard, Japanese ministry says

iPod Nano music player occasionally catches fire when charging, a Japanese official said this week. Japan has demanded that Apple deliver a report by Aug. 4 on the precautions the company will take with future units.

iPod Nano. The trade ministry in Japan says the iPod Nano is a fire risk, and claims that the Apple music player has burned at least four consumers.

iPod Nano, fire starter? That's the line this week from the Japanese trade ministry, which claims the 2005 iteration of Apple's pint-sized music player regularly overheats, emits smoke, and even bursts into flame. In a conversation with a reporter from Bloomberg News, spokesman Hiroshi Miyashita said the ministry had documented six incidents of the iPod Nano catching fire, as well as 21 incidents where the iPod Nano overheated and emitted smoke.

All the problems apparently occurred when the iPod Nano was charging, causing at least four people to suffer burns to their hands. "The ministry repeatedly asked Apple Japan to take market measures, such as giving warnings or recalling the products, but it has failed to do so," a representative told a reporter for a separate wire service earlier today. The ministry has apparently asked Apple to address the complaints by Aug. 4.

No word yet on whether the overheating issue affects iPod Nano units sold in the US. Bloomberg News reports that a spokeswoman for Apple Asia did not know about the problem, and had not yet seen the trade ministry's complaint.

It's been a rough summer for Apple, which was repeatedly slammed for the (allegedly) spotty reception on the iPhone 4. Earlier this month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple would issue free plastic iPhone cases to all eligible consumers, in an effort to quell consumer anger over the reception problems. "We're not perfect, and phones aren't perfect either, but we want to make all of our users happy," Jobs said at the time.

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