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Hideyasu Tagaya, who resigned last month as president of ailing Mitsubishi Motors Corp., will become chairman of the automaker’s North American unit effective March 1, according to company sources.

Tagaya resigned late last month to take responsibility for poor earnings results amid a string of defect coverups and recalls and became an adviser.

He will become chairman of Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., on March 1 to help reinvigorate the automaker’s North American operations by capitalizing on his long experience abroad, a company official said.

But his appointment may become a lightning rod for criticism because it follows the company’s recently announced rehabilitation plan, auto industry sources said.

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