President, chairman of Itochu unit to resign over false-labeling scandal

Itochu Fresh Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of trading firm Itochu Corp., said Friday its president and chairman will resign in November over the false labeling of imported eel, which was sold as more expensive domestic produce.

Itochu Fresh President Akira Manabe and Chairman Tetsuya Matsui will resign Nov. 21, and Manabe’s salary will be cut 30 percent until his resignation, the company said.

The parent company will also cut the salary of a director responsible for the scandal by 20 percent for six months, Itochu said.

For one year beginning in January 2001, Tokyo-based Itochu Fresh’s Kyushu branch packaged and falsely labeled the eel imported from Taiwan as being from Kagoshima Prefecture, selling it to restaurants and other businesses.

Itochu Fresh will stop selling eel in Kyushu and sharply cut back sales of domestic eel, it said.

Manabe’s retirement allowances will also be reduced 50 percent and he will be replaced by Yukiya Kanzaki, chief of Itochu International Inc.’s food division.

The head of Itochu Fresh’s Kyushu branch, which sold the falsely labeled eel, and the company’s director in charge will resign for his lax management.

“It’s really regrettable,” Manabe said at a news conference. “I regret that our supervision was not thorough enough.”

After an investigation, the company said it discovered that the total amount of falsely labeled eel came to 113.8 tons, compared with the 100 tons it announced previously.

Sales of the products earned the company 182 million yen in sales and a profit of 28 million yen, it said.