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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mitsubishi Fuso Escapes Justice

岡本紫穂 三菱ふそう

On January 10, 2002, the wheel came off a Mitsubishi Fuso truck, hitting from behind and killing,a 29-year-old pedestrian, Shiho Okamoto, and injuring her two sons, aged one and four. Okamoto's mother sued Mitsubishi Fuso for allegedly knowing that the possibility of such an accident existed, but having decided against a product recall because of the effect it would have on profits. She sued the government at the same time for failing to take the steps to bring about such a recall. She sued for a sum of 165,500,000 yen (USD 1.4 million).

Halfway through the case, Mitsubishi Fuso dropped its defense that the accident was due to insufficient maintenance and acknowledged that it was due to a design fault. Incredibly, in spite of effectively admitting their guilt, Mitsubishi appealed to the fact that similar suits demanding consolation money 'have been rejected by the high court', and that they should therefore be let off too.

Incredibly, the judge yesterday accepted their argument, ordering them to pay only 5.5 million yen (USD46,500), and no consolation money.

Incredibly, the government wriggled out of it by saying that 'because Mitsubishi filed a false statement, we cannot accept their [subsequent] admission of faulty design'. Faced with this out and out righteousness, the judge apparently had no choice but to let the government completely off the hook.

The incident in which Shiho Okamoto was killed is against a backdrop of constant cover-ups by Mitsubishi Fuso of mechanical problems, one of which was also responsible for the death of a truck driver in October 2002 because of a clutch-related problem in a "The Great" series truck - the same kind of truck involved in Okamoto's death.

Incidentally, the majority of Mitsubishi Fuso's shares are owned by DaimlerChrysler.

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