• Kyodo

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Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Chairman Masaki Sakuyama resigned Friday after a panel of outside experts said an “inward-looking and closed” corporate culture was to blame for decades of cheating by the company in inspections for train-use equipment.

The panel also said Mitsubishi Electric employees involved in the scandal lacked awareness of the need to ensure quality through proper procedures, urging the major electronics maker to improve its culture.

Sakuyama also stepped down as a vice chairman of the Japan Business Federation, the country’s most powerful business lobby known as Keidanren.

“The biggest issue facing our company is a disconnect between management and those working at factories,” Sakuyama told a press briefing after the release of the report.

“I felt responsible as chairman of the board in charge of oversight,” he said, adding that Mitsubishi Electric needs a “fundamental change.”

Mitsubishi said earlier that employees at its plant in Nagasaki Prefecture did not conduct quality-related tests as required for products such as train air conditioners and air compressors. The inspection cheating is believed to have taken place for over three decades.

The panel, including lawyers and professors, said computer programs were used to automatically produce inspection results for air conditioners.

Major train operators — East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co. and Central Japan Railway Co. — are among Mitsubishi Electric’s customers.

At a separate plant in Gifu Prefecture, parts that are different from those registered with a safety certification body in the United States were used for electromagnetic switchgears, according to the panel report.

The release of the investigation report follows the replacement of Takeshi Sugiyama as president and CEO in July.

The electronics maker said it will strive to create a corporate culture in which “employees feel that they can consult with their superiors,” and that “tolerates failures” and “fosters collaboration to solve issues through shared information.”

Mitsubishi will invite a chief quality officer from outside the company next April to lead efforts to ensure compliance and raise awareness of product quality among its employees.

In 2018, a Mitsubishi Electric subsidiary revealed that it had shipped rubber products that did not meet promised quality standards. Last year, Mitsubishi Electric said automotive radio receivers shipped to the European Union did not meet local standards.

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