• Kyodo

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Nagoya Railroad Co. said Thursday that it has accepted the resignation of a director who admitted he was informed of a coverup that involved one of the company’s drivers who was driving without a license.

According to the firm, popularly called Meitetsu, Director Ryokichi Takeuchi, 56, was informed Feb. 22 that a bus driver working in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, was driving with an expired license when his bus was rear-ended by a passenger car the previous day.

The driver’s superior asked another driver to tell authorities that he was behind the wheel at the time of the incident.

Meitetsu President Misao Kimura told a news conference Thursday that the coverup was first reported to a 59-year-old section chief at Meitetsu’s head office. The section chief in turn told Takeuchi, asking the director to pretend he never heard it, and that he would take complete responsibility.

Takeuchi, for his part, told no one else about the matter, Kimura said.

On June 28, Takeuchi told Managing Director Hiroshi Ozawa, who was in charge of vehicle operations, that he had been told of the coverup, according to the firm.

The revelation that an executive was aware of the incident is widely seen as an indication that the firm was actively hushing up the incident. The railway operator had so far denied that anyone other than the section chief was in the know.

“I apologize for the trouble we have caused our customers and other relevant parties,” Kimura said. However, he said he would not step down, and that his duty now is to set up a better compliance system at the firm.

Ahead of the news conference, the Meitetsu board endorsed Takeuchi’s resignation and increased Kimura’s six-month pay cut to 20 percent from 10 percent. It also demoted Ozawa to director.

Meanwhile, Meitetsu also revealed Thursday that an in-house probe showed that part of the routes used by four of its bus lines had not been authorized by the regional transport bureau.

For two or three years, the four lines, which all link municipalities with Nagoya airport, used the Kachigawa Interchange on the Tomeihan Expressway instead of the Kusunoki Interchange to avoid congestion from construction work. The lines have since returned to their authorized routes, the firm said.

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