In January 2002 the wheel came off a Mitsubishi Fuso truck, hitting a car and killing the 29-year-old driver and injuring her two children. The dead woman'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 550,000 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.
Incidentally, the majority of Mitsubishi Fuso's shares are owned by DaimlerChrysler.
Books on Japanese Politics & Society
Japan Mitsubishi Justice
Wednesday, April 19, 2006