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Former Mitsubishi Executives In Court Over Fatal Crash

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Mitsubishi

Former Mitsubishi Executives In Court Over Fatal Crash

Steve Herman
Voice of America
Tokyo, Japan
October 8, 2004

Former executives of a major Japanese automaker appear in court in a precedent-setting case.

Several former top executives of Mitsubishi Motors have appeared in court to enter pleas. They are all charged with concealing a defective truck clutch system.

Former company President Katsuhiko Kawasoe and the former chairman of the automaker's truck and bus subsidiary, Takashi Usami, both pleaded not guilty. Two other lower-ranking former executives entered guilty pleas.

The four are charged with professional negligence, in a case in which a faulty clutch led to the death of a truck driver. This is believed to be the first time ever in Japan that top executives of an automaker are being held responsible for a fatal accident.

Wilfried Porth, president of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Company, told reporters that outside lawyers are examining a number of problems at the company, which has been hit with lawsuits and criminal prosecutions alleging the cover-up of mechanical defects. He said the lawyers will submit a report by the end of the year. "There is possibly only limited individual legal responsibility in the clutch housing case, [but] this lack of company responsibility remains," he said. "We fully apologize for this."

Another Mitsubishi branch is also facing legal trouble. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is one of about 30 companies accused of rigging bids for bridge construction projects funded by the government.

This article is an excerpt from an Asian business report by the same name.

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