The CEO of Takata Corp., the Japanese seatbelt and air bag maker at the center of a defect scandal that has resulted in recalls of 33.8 million air bags, has apologized to shareholders and appeared at a news conference for the first time since the problems emerged.

Shigehisa Takada made a brief apology Thursday and bowed along with two other senior company executives, but left details of the briefing to other company officials.

At least eight people have been killed and 100 injured by the airbags, which can explode with excessive force, spewing shrapnel into the vehicle. The problem has persisted for over a decade, affecting 11 automakers including Honda, BMW and Toyota.

Takada expressed regret over the problems, saying the exact cause of the problem was still under investigation.