Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting away with homicide

In April 2006, a Yokohama court awarded the family of a young mother who was killed by a wheel which fell off of a Mitsubishi truck 5.5 million yen---about US$45,000. That was the cash value of her life according to Japanese law I guess. At that time the court rejected the demand that a penalty of ¥160 million (about $1.3 million US)be imposed on Mitsubishi. After all, which is more important, a citizen's life or a company's well-being? We all know that a small financial "penalty" like that would be nothing to a huge conglomerate like Mitsubishi.

Yesterday, after an appeal by the prosecution, the full weight of the Japanese legal system struck the final blow to Mitsubishi for its intentional negligence in this case. (Yes, intentional. They knew the wheels were defective and hid and lied about the fact. The same as with other Mistubishi autos and trucks.):

The Yokohama District Court handed suspended prison terms Thursday to two former senior officials of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for neglecting to take action to prevent a defect-linked accident in Yokohama in 2002 that killed a woman and injured her two sons.

..."The defendants caused the accident to occur by failing to recall the products and unthinkingly neglected the situation when they could have readily anticipated that the wheel hubs were not strong enough," the judge said. Read more.

This is normal for crooked executives in Japan. No jail time. Will they still be working in some capacity for Mitsubishi? Don't know, but I suspect they will be. I am sure this will send a message to all companies in Japan that this sort of thing will not be tolerated. Why, you can't just negligently kill someone and get off nearly scot-free.

I guess nobody is really at fault here. It can't be helped. Thank god that Japan is not like the US where survivors could sue and put some real teeth in the results, and the company would think twice before pulling the same thing again.

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