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Former Mitsubishi Fuso Chairman Arrested

Posted May. 07, 2004 21:18,   


Former and incumbent executives of the Mitsubishi Fuso Bus and Truck Corp., a division of Mitsubishi Motors (MMC), were arrested on charges of covering up car defects that caused death and injuries to a family.

They learned that vehicle defects caused the accident, but they manipulated internal examination reports to cover it up. There is a growing criticism that it is a corporate crime with no ethics at all.

Japan’s Kanagawa police arrested seven former and incumbent executives of Mitsubishi Fuso, including former chairman Takashi Usami, on Thursday on professional negligence and false report charges.

“They claimed poor maintenance caused the accident even though they knew they were responsible for the accident. They were arrested for their severity,” said the Kanagawa police.

A fatal accident involving a wheel that came off a truck that hit and killed a 29-year-old mother and severely injured her two children occurred in Yokohama in January of 2002.

Mitsubishi Fuso’s internal investigation found that hubs of the trucks were defective.

The company covered it up as the announcement of the investigation results would have raised company costs from a subsequent recall, and would be unfavorable in negotiations with the families of the victims.

Mitsubishi submitted false reports that said there would be no safety concern if only hubs with serious abrasions were exchanged. Moreover, the company blamed drivers, saying that only poorly maintained hubs would lead to tire detachment accidents.

Japan’s media criticized the company for its “virtual murder,” saying that immediate measures after learning the hub defects could have saved lives. There were 33 cases of tires coming off of Mitsubishi trucks between 1992 and 2002.

“This should not have happened. Mitsubishi will spare no efforts in training employees on their ethical responsibilities,” apologized top executives of the Mitsubishi Group.

Consumer anger, however, is growing. Domestic sales of Mitsubishi vehicles dropped by 20% compared to same period last year, and its dealers are increasingly leaving the company. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. now has to be concerned about its future due to cover-up of vehicle defects along with its poor business performance.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com