TOKYO (AFP) - Toyota president Akio Toyoda, under fire for his handling of massive safety recalls, was expected to leave Japan Saturday for the United States where he faces a grilling in front of a hostile Congress. The head of the embattled Japanese automaker has bowed to calls to appear in front of US lawmakers after an initial reluctance, a flip flop that has drawn further criticism and added to impressions of a public relations disaster. Toyoda, the grandson of the founder of the auto giant, is expected to come under attack from US politicians, some of whom are facing mid-term elections. In a multi-billion dollar blow, the company is recalling more than eight million units worldwide following a series of complaints and a slew of lawsuits claiming vehicle faults were linked to 30 deaths across the US. Saturdays expected departure follows pressure on Toyoda at home and abroad after his initial reluctance to go to Washington. Japans Transport Minister Seiji Maehara on Friday criticised Toyoda for not being more decisive on whether to face the US Congress, saying it was regrettable that there were flip-flops. Republican Darrell Issa, who has been at the forefront of the US Toyota safety probe, welcomed Toyodas decision to fly to Washington as the right thing. This problem in the US and around the world is important enough for the chairman of the entire company to make it a focus of where and how he is going to say changes are going to happen for Toyota, he told Japans Nippon Television. The key congressional committee has also subpoenaed Dimitrios Biller, a top US lawyer for the Japanese carmaker from 2003 to 2007, asking for all documents he has relating to Toyotas handling of alleged motor vehicle defects and related litigation. Biller says the internal company documents show the beleaguered firm was hiding evidence of safety defects from consumers and regulators. In a development that could also trigger criticism of US authorities, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Saturday that the largest auto insurer in the US had already warned the authorities of Toyota safety issues. State Farm had told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of complaints related to unintended acceleration in Toyota cars as early as February 2004. There were words of warning for Toyoda from Japan, where his performance in the minefield of US politics is being keenly watched for its impact on not only the automaker itself, but on the wider economy. The Yomiuri warned he must tread carefully when dealing with politicians facing re-election battles who are increasingly mindful of the threat to American jobs. With autumns mid-term election approaching, there has been a sharp rise in protectionism expressed among members of Congress, the newspaper said in its Saturday editorial. If Toyota fails to properly act under these circumstances, it could deal a serious blow to the trust in Japanese products as a whole. Toyota executives have expressed worries that their boss is heading into a lions den, the liberal Asahi daily said. No matter what he says to explain, he will be crucified for sure, said an unnamed company official, quoted by the Asahi. The iconic company, which soared past General Motors in 2008 to become the worlds biggest automaker, is facing a litany of complaints ranging from unintended acceleration to brake failure in its Prius hybrid cars. US safety officials are probing whether Toyota dragged its feet on tackling the problems, and President Barack Obamas Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has vowed to hold Toyotas feet to the fire to make sure its cars are safe. Toyoda, 53, was long groomed for the top job and became the first member of the founding family in 14 years to take the reins last June. When contacted by AFP on Saturday, the company refused to confirm Toyodas departure for the US, saying his schedule was confidential.