updated 3/12/2008 3:54:26 AM ET 2008-03-12T07:54:26

Japan is investigating a possible defect in Apple Inc.'s iPod after one of the popular digital music players reportedly shot out sparks while recharging, a government official said Wednesday.

An official at the trade and economy ministry overseeing product problems said a defect in the lithium-ion battery is suspected in the iPod Nano, model number MA099J/A. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity, adding that he was reiterating a ministry position.

The problem, which surfaced in January in Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, was reported by Apple in March to the ministry, according to the official. No one was injured, he said.

Apple Japan did not contest the ministry statement but refused further comment.

The ministry has instructed Apple Japan to find out the cause of what it is categorizing as a fire linked to the iPod, and Apple must report back to the government.

The lithium-ion battery has been blamed for a series of blazes in laptops recently, resulting in massive global recalls.

The ministry said about 425,000 iPods of the same suspected model were shipped into Japan by Apple. It was unclear how many were in stores or people's homes.

The shipment began in September 2005 and was discontinued after September 2006, the ministry said.

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