Yoichiro Okazaki, chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., will resign to take responsibility for poor earnings results following a string of defect coverups and recalls, sources said Saturday.

MMC President Hideyasu Tagaya and Vice Chairman Koji Furukawa are also expected to step down, the sources said.

Okazaki’s successor has yet to be decided, but a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. executive may replace him.

Okazaki, 62, became MMC chairman and CEO in April after serving as a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries managing director.

Okazaki has been leading the efforts to rebuild the scandal-hit automaker under a reconstruction plan crafted in May. But its earnings remain sluggish with a plunge in domestic sales, and the company was forced to delay the announcement of a new reconstruction plan scheduled for December.

MMC is expected to announce the new rehabilitation plan later this month, which includes a capital increase of about 250 billion yen. The fresh capital will come from three Mitsubishi group companies — the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, major trading house Mitsubishi Corp. and MHI.

MMC apparently believes it is necessary for the top executives to take responsibility for the unsuccessful rehabilitation before it adopts the new plan, the sources said.

Keidanren-Toyota ties

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) is likely to name Toyota Motor Corp. President Fujio Cho as one of its 15 vice chairmen in May, sources said Saturday.

The federation is currently headed by Hiroshi Okuda, who is chairman of Toyota.

Because Okuda is expected to serve out his four-year term to May 2006 as head of Nippon Keidanren, Cho’s appointment, likely to be endorsed at a May 26 plenary session of the lobby, will create an unusual power structure in which Toyota’s two top managers concurrently hold the posts of chairman and vice chairman of Japan’s most powerful business lobby.

There is also speculation that Cho, 67, may succeed Okuda, 72, as Nippon Keidanren chief when Okuda retires, the sources said.

In Nagoya, Toyota sources said Cho will continue serving as the automaker’s president after he is selected as Nippon Keidanren vice chairman.

The automaker also envisions promoting Akio Toyoda, 48, a senior managing director, to the post of vice president with an eye to promoting him to the Toyota presidency in the future, the sources said.

Toyoda is a grandson of the late Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda.

Nippon Keidanren is also arranging to ask Nippon Steel Corp. President Akio Mimura to become a vice chairman, the federation sources said. He would take over from Nippon Steel Chairman Akira Chihaya, whose second two-year term as Nippon Keidanren vice chairman will expire in May.

Two more vice chairmen of the business lobby — Toshiba Corp. Chairman Taizo Nishimuro and Honda Motor Co. adviser Hiroyuki Yoshino — are expected to resign their posts in the lobby in May.

Earlier, the business lobby unofficially asked Itaru Koeda, cochairman of Nissan Motor Co., to become its vice chairman as successor to Honda’s Yoshino.

But Koeda, also chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, turned down the request, the federation sources said.

The business lobby has only twice had top executives from the same firm as its chairman and vice chairman. Both cases, which occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, involved Nippon Steel executives.

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