• Kyodo

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Two managers at Nagoya Railroad Co. were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of ordering a bus driver to cover for a colleague whose bus was involved in a minor accident and whose license had expired.

Shigeru Uno, 50, who was chief of services, and Shigeharu Matsui, 57, who headed marketing, were supervisors of the two drivers at the Okazaki bus operations office of Nagoya Railroad, which is known as Meitetsu, at the time of the accident, Aichi Prefectural Police said.

Uno was in charge of drawing up drivers’ shifts, checking their health and keeping tabs on operating records. Police said both supervisors have basically owned up to the charge.

Police have also found the two managers reported the incident and the attempted coverup to a 59-year-old manager at the company’s head office, but this manager did not report it to those above him. It was also learned that Meitetsu did not tell Aichi police that this manager was aware of the coverup.

They will investigate to learn the extent to which the head office was involved in the coverup, police sources said.

Police arrested the two bus drivers Tuesday. They alleged Hiroshi Kawaguchi was driving the bus involved in the accident without a license and Masahiko Hiraiwa was ordered to go on record as being the driver at the time.

Kawaguchi, 37, who failed to renew his driver’s license after it expired in October 2001, was driving a regular-route bus in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, on Feb. 19 when a car driven by a 21-year-old college student rear-ended it, according to police.

Kawaguchi did not notice the impact but the student reported it to police. , who in turn notified the bus operator.

When called back to the office later that day, Kawaguchi for the first time told his supervisors that he had no license, police said. According to Meitetsu, Uno was upset when he was told by the driver that he had no license, and decided to hide this information because he thought the consequences would be too harsh for Kawaguchi, who had a large family to support. Kawaguchi left the company on March 5.

The company told authorities that Hiraiwa, 37, was behind the wheel and had him substitute for Kawaguchi in police questioning about the accident, they said.

Police searched the Okazaki office Monday on suspicion of concealment of evidence in a criminal case. They seized documents including work records for the day of the accident.

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