NAGOYA – Nagoya Railroad Co. admitted Friday it deliberately falsified a report to authorities on a February traffic accident involving one of its buses because the driver involved had an expired license.
“This is a scandal that should not have occurred,” Misao Kimura, president of the company commonly called Meitetsu, told a news conference.
He said he will reduce his pay by 10 percent for six months to take responsibility for the fiasco, while three other executives will take 10 percent pay cuts ranging from three to six months.
According to an investigation by the Chubu Transport Bureau, a car bumped the rear of a bus as it was leaving a bus stop in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, on the evening of Feb. 19.
The 37-year-old bus driver continued on his route, unaware that there had been any contact with another vehicle, but the other motorist reported the accident to the local police station.
The bus driver’s license had expired in October 2001 because he had forgotten to renew it, but he had continued working. His superior at Meitetsu’s Okazaki office was aware of this.
When the superior later filed a report with police and the regional transport bureau, however, a different bus driver was named as having been behind the wheel at the time.
According to Meitetsu, the falsification was reported to a section chief at the railway’s planning and management division the following day, but this official did not tell his superiors.
The driver in question submitted his resignation the day after the accident and left the company March 5, while the head of the local bus office and the driver’s superior who initially falsified the report were removed from their posts earlier this month, according to the firm.
Aichi Prefectural Police have launched an investigation into the case as a possible violation of the Road Traffic Law as well as alleged harboring of a criminal, while the transport bureau said it is considering slapping the railway with administrative penalties.
The superior was quoted as saying he decided to make a false report because he felt sorry for the driver, who had a large family to support.
The driver got his license to drive large vehicles in March 1999 and started working for Meitetsu that November. Although he could have renewed his license within six months after the expiration date, his house burned down in late March last year, just about the time of the renewal limit, and he was too busy with other matters to deal with the license.
The false report came to light after an internal audit by the local office of the regional transport bureau found June 10 that there were discrepancies in the roll-call list and the shift chart. An ensuing internal investigation showed that the shift chart had been falsified, and Meitetsu reported the incident to police Tuesday.
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