• Jan 16, 2008
This story should give every auto executive pause the next time he or she is faced with whether or not to issue a recall for a defective part. A court in Japan has ruled that a former head of Mitsubishi Motors is guilty of negligence that ultimately led to the death of a driver who was killed when his Mitsubishi truck crashed due to a faulty clutch housing that was never recalled. The court ruled that Katsuhiko Kawasoe (shown here in 2004 when he first faced these charges) and three other executives at the time had known about defective parts on its vehicles for decades and actively tried to conceal them or have them fixed in secret. Kawasoe and his three cohorts, who all plead not guilty, were given suspended sentences, so none will serve any jail time. Mitsubishi's recall scandal first came to light in 2000, since which other deaths have been attributed to the automaker's negligence. Last month another court in Yokohama found two other Mitsubishi execs guilty of the same crime, but this is the first time the head of an automaker has been convicted.
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd, photo by JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty]


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  • 25 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      an entire blog post about defective parts leading to death... and not one mention of the actual defect, or how it related to deaths.
        • 7 Years Ago
        LOL, good point.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If there is one Japanese auto company that has problems...
      its Mitsubishi.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well you may have noticed (or not) that since the whole Mitsu. cover-up scandal took place, most of the Japanese car companies have since issued major recalls on some of their products to fix/repair engineering defects. You can count on one hand how many times that happened before the Mitsu. scandal. Very, very few and your a fool to think it was because other companies products don't break.
        My point is they all ate from the same cookie jar but it was Mitsubishi who got caught with their hand in it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Executives held accountable!

      Consumer Justice!

      Quick, Someone book me a flight to Japan immediately!
        • 7 Years Ago
        I was thinking that. It's rare for an executive to be criminally charged in the US, which is what makes this so interesting.

        Generally, the offending entity would either face a fine from the FTC or NHTSA and/or an ugly lawsuit.I think you'd see a whole lot better behaviour on the part of executives if the corporate veil could be readily pierced and the responsible personnel criminally prosecuted.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can anyone remember how many people died in all those Ford SUV rollovers with the under inflated Firestone tires?
        • 7 Years Ago
        The count was over 400 deaths directly attributable, and over 2,000 injured & paralyzed just from the Ford Explorer Firestone debacle. 1000s more deaths from Explorer rollovers with other brand tires (recall Ford had dealers hid the tippy defect by having dealers keep tires at max 26psi increasing the chance of underinflation, weakening of the sidewall and the greater chance of a rollover.) Venezuela Explorers with the US Spec suspension were recalled and the rear suspension was changed to Austrailian Spec (more heavy duty). Ford did not do the same for the US spec b/c of the million they sold would kill all the profits they made. There's several engineers who defected with documentation and test results of failure (and of the 16M Ford cruise control fire problem that was ignored and covered up for so long).

        There's lots of information out there on the InterWeb - just be wary of reading the ambulance chaser websites. Try Flaming Fords - actually has a lot of information there with of course a bias for fiery deaths.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is probably more than would have ever happened in the U.S., but come on - no jail time? How is this punishment, again?

      So these execs had to spend a tiny piece of their fortunes on some legal fees... yeah, I guess that pretty much evens out a count of negligent homicide.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah, suspended sentence? So it was a slap on the wrist. No bite, no reason to stop in the USA. But like everyone said, Corp's do it all the time. Not just Mitsu/Fuso. I think of the US car makers Ford has been caught the most for safety defects. All the way back to the pinto. I can't remember any GM safety defects other than the gas tank on the pick ups. Most of their problems were reliabilty problems. Same way with Chrysler who knew about paint problems and faulty gauge clusters/speedometers for years yet did nothing. An interesting tie in between Chrysler and Mitsu is that they both knew that the 3.0 V6 and 2.6L 4 cylinder had major head design problems yet because they usually appeared after warranty they never did anything about it.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "An interesting tie in between Chrysler and Mitsu is that they both knew that the 3.0 V6 and 2.6L 4 cylinder had major head design problems yet because they usually appeared after warranty they never did anything about it.
        "

        I had one of these (3.0) and they did fix the problem (but not under warranty). The defect was the valves and the sometime after 91 or 92 they used a revised part. My 90 was fixed using this part and was fine after that. Don't know about the 2.6 but Chrysler dropped it as soon as their 2.5 was ready.
      • 7 Years Ago
      dum, duh dum dum - Ford.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mitsu got what it deserves - now if only the US would hold our automakers (such as Ford) accountable for the fatal defects they've pawned on us. You know he safe for the public Pinto or the easy to roll over Explorer.

        But you so smart (read that as satire) - can't see the link from Mitsu's corporate greed by selling dangerous vehicles to Ford's corporate greed by selling dangerous vehicles to the public. But, I'll stand "pat" that companies in the US no longer get free lunches and executives are exonerated b/c they cannot be held personally liable for their cheap skate decisions that were the direct cause of their customer's death.

        Cya jack-@ss
        • 7 Years Ago
        Wow. You are awesome, you put down Ford. HaHaHa.
        It is a true knee-slapper how you put down Ford in a Mitsubishi blog. You should be a stand up comedian.

        P.S. That was sarcasm. Only an utter jack-@ss would insult Ford in a non-Ford thread.
      • 7 Years Ago
      And yet Iacocca roams fee...
        • 7 Years Ago
        . . .same goes for Ford and Firestone execs who knowingly allowed defects into their vehicles that accounted for 250 deaths and 3,000 injurys.

        • 7 Years Ago
        True. Mitsubishi has paid the price more than any other auto maker has. They all lie and cover defects up but since Mitsu got caught, others have been a lot more truthful.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Here isn the U.S. we really don't hold execs accountable for anything that goes wrong, we just give them credit when things go well. Perhaps if they were held at least somewhat accountable for their decisions we would have a better, safer, more consumer friiendly marketplace. Just a thought.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well, who would have known, even teriyaki cars have defects.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mitsubishi's never really had the greatest reputation for reliability. Remember, owning a DSM is better than an ASE certification?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mitsubishi's always been on the low end. They were nearly financially wiped out before being bailed out by the Japanese government, as far as I know.

        I've heard of other shady practices done by Mitsu, and this one just adds to it. I think I will continue to avoid Mitsus.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Thank you Temple - this is the information that SHOULD have been in the original story, but somehow was left out.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mitsubishi wasn't bailed out by the Japanese government, they were sold off to the other Mitsubishi conglomerates after being run into the ground by Daimler Chrysler.

        Also, these recalls that they are referring to is for Mitsubishi Fuso, and NOT Mitsubishi Motors. Fuso is the heavy truck division that is still owned by DCX, and has little operate connection with MMC.
      • 7 Years Ago
      There was an theOnion.com spoof about an earthquake so devastating that it knocked Japan back into the year 2050 or something.

      Hopefully, this idea will spread to other industries that desperarately need accountability. Like the pharmaceutical industry, and the software industry.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wait. In Japan, the law works when it needs to? There's something we could seek to emulate...crack addicts jailed for decades, traitors get elected president...fair, no?
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