January 16, 2008
Criminal Conviction Over Mitsubishi Defects and Coverup
A former Mitsubishi president was convicted in Japan of professional malpractice relating to a death in a head-on collision and a long-term systematic coverup of defects.
Kawasoe, who became president in 1997, quit in disgrace in 2000 after acknowledging that the automaker had hidden defects for decades, many secretly repaired without recalls, despite reports of dozens of accidents.
The massive cover-up scandal stunned Japan when it surfaced in 2000. The sale of Mitsubishi Motors vehicles plunged, sending the Tokyo-based maker into losses for years.
For decades, Mitsubishi kept a two-tier record of driver complaints, tucking away defect reports in a locker that employees called "H," standing for the Japanese word for "secret."
Responsibilities were not defined and driver safety concerns were forgotten, according to a company report ordered in response to the scandal. When the concealed defects grew massive over the years, everyone was afraid to speak up, it said.
Mitsubishi apologized Wednesday to the family of the driver who died, and the company promised to do better.
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