Trading house Mitsui & Co. said Wednesday its top managers will resign Sept. 30 to take responsibility for successive scandals that have tarnished the firm.
Shigeji Ueshima, 71, will resign as chairman of Mitsui, while Shinjiro Shimizu, 64, will step down as president.
Nobuo Ohashi, a 63-year-old Mitsui vice president, will become the firm’s new chairman, while Shoei Utsuda, a 59-year-old senior managing director, will become its new president.
The reshuffle was confirmed at an extraordinary board meeting Wednesday morning.
“The public confidence in our company has been considerably damaged,” Shimizu said. “I will take the responsibility as the management head.”
Shimizu indicated he may remain at Mitsui in a different position.
It was alleged in late August that Mitsui employees had bribed a senior Mongolian government official to secure orders for a power project financed by official development assistance from Tokyo.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is reportedly preparing to investigate Mitsui’s role in the episode, suspecting violations of legislation banning the bribing of foreign government officials.
Earlier this year, three Mitsui employees were charged with interfering in the bidding process for a government-funded power generation project on Kunashiri Island with the help of a Foreign Ministry official.
Kunashiri Island is a Russian-held territory claimed by Japan.
Mitsui has decided that the reshuffle is a necessary step toward regaining public trust in the firm, the officials said.
When the first bid-rigging scandal broke, Shimizu said he would not resign, stating that he would need to spearhead an effort to create a “new Mitsui.” In the wake of the second scandal, however, he apparently decided to step down.
These developments follow resignations at the nation’s top power supplier, Tokyo Electric Power Co., over coverups of structural problems at its nuclear plants, along with resignations at Nippon Meat Packers Inc. over a beef-mislabeling fraud.
These examples of corporate misbehavior are said to be one factor behind the recent slump on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Mitsui officials said the company has informed the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) that Ueshima will step down as a vice chairman of the business lobby group.
Nippon Keidanren is expected to accept Ueshima’s resignation, along with that of Tepco Chairman Hiroshi Araki, who is another vice chairman of the body, during a meeting of senior officials on Monday.
The utility announced Monday that Araki will resign as a punitive measure over the Tepco scandal.
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