JAPAN: Mitsubishi Fuso gets government OK to make 28 truck models
Japan's transport minister Kazuo Kitagawa said on Friday that the ministry has certified the safety of 28 new truck models to be manufactured by scandal-hit Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp., authorising their sales.
But Kitagawa told Kyodo News the ministry will keep the truck and bus maker, an affiliate of DaimlerChrysler, under special supervision.
Kyodo noted that Mitsubishi Fuso was spun off from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in early 2003, when DaimlerChrysler obtained an initial stake of 43% which has now risen to 65%.
Friday's step amounts to effectively lifting the certification-related measures the ministry imposed last autumn in view of fatal accidents involving Mitsubishi Fuso trucks and a spate of defect coverups and recalls, the report said.
Mitsubishi Fuso sought the certifications for the 28 models - all Cantor model trucks - in February and April 2004, Kyodo News said, noting that the ministry stiffened screening for Mitsubishi Fuso models in May last year, when it came to light that the maker had falsified a report on defects in the driving wheel hubs of its large vehicles. The ministry later said it would not certify any Mitsubishi Fuso models unless the firm took measures to ensure that it would not commit any more illicit actions.
Friday's certifications were the first since the ministry certified a total of 69 Mitsubishi Fuso models on September 28 last year, the report added.
However, Kyodo said, the certifications followed recent revelations that the company manufactured a total of 2,700 trucks of the 28 models in September-November 2004.
Satoru Kanazawa, chief of the ministry's road transport bureau, reportedly told a news conference he was ''displeased'' that the trucks had been produced without certifications.
Kyodo News noted that ministry certification is a legal prerequisite for sales of motor vehicles but production alone without certification is not illegal.
Mitsubishi Fuso submitted to the ministry last December a set of measures to prevent a recurrence of illegal actions, but the ministry said they were inadequate. The maker devised additional steps, submitting another report on measures to ensure compliance with laws and regulations on Monday, the report added.
Ministry officials reportedly said the ministry had certified the 28 models because it judged Mitsubishi Fuso had conducted an adequate in-house probe into factors behind the string of accidents and recalls.
In addition, the ministry said in a statement cited by Kyodo News, the company has created a regime of in-house supervision for its top managers by ''setting up a corporate ethics committee comprising experts selected from outside the company.''
The ministry reportedly said it will oblige the company to submit further reports every three months in order to verify whether the latest set of measures work.
The 28 models certified reportedly include models which clear the world's most stringent exhaust gas regulations - these will become binding from October.
According to Kyodo News, a Mitsubishi Fuso official said of the manufacturing of trucks without certification in the September-November period: ''We had ordered parts on the presumption that the models will be later certified.''
But, contrary to the firm's presumption: "Those models were not certified as of September last year, so we assembled those components (to make the trucks) because we could not put the components in storage without assembling."