7 Mitsubishi executives arrested
Former President Usami Takashi and six other senior officials of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation (MFTBC) were arrested on May 6 on suspicion of professional negligence and falsifying reports on accidents, including one that killed a woman.
The fatal accident occurred in January 2002 in Yokohama City. A 29-year-old woman was killed and her two children injured when a wheel rolled off a Mitsubishi truck.
Soon after the accident, the Japanese Communist Party and its newspaper Akahata reported that defects in hubs connecting the wheels and the axle may have caused the accident.
MFTBC, however, blamed poor maintenance by users for the wheel hub problem or for an overload, thus covering up the defects. If this had been the case, wheels could have rolled off from other makers' trucks.
In fact, a transport ministry survey showed that wheel hub damage had been frequently reported only for Mitsubishi vehicles. Despite this, the ministry defended the maker's assertion.
The JCP first brought up this problem in May 2002 at a Lower House committee meeting. Since then, its Dietmembers in both the Upper and Lower Houses had demanded that the transport ministry carry out plant inspections and order a recall to MFTBC.
The transport ministry as the authority responsible for on-site inspections should bear a grave responsibility for neglecting for so long to fulfill its duty. In addition, it is necessary to establish a vehicle recall system by a third-party institution, said Akahata. (end)