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Hints of an urge to merge

A crucial prerequisite of Japanese economic rejuvenation looks to be a burst of merger and acquisitions activity Or so many of the investment banks that would arrange such deals say. With the notable exception of the auto industry, corporate Japan is more hesitant. Legal changes have made M&A easier, but corporate culture remains a stumbling block. Kevin Rafferty reports

Kawasoe, president
of Mitsubishi resigns

Tetsuro Ishikawa ran from the media shouting: "I have not been sleeping." The president of milk producer Snow Brand, he had just claimed he didn't know how his company's product had poisoned 15,000 people. Katsuhiko Kawasoe resigned as president of Mitusbishi Motors after admitting that the vehicle maker had covered up customer complaints for years.

Yoichiro Kaizaki, president of Bridgestone Corporation, snubbed US congressional inquiries into the recall of 6.5 million tyres made by its Firestone subsidiary allegedly linked to 120 deaths, then tried to pin the blame on the Ford vehicles that used the tyres.

It has not been a good year for corporate Japan. If not quite annus horribilis, every other day there have been some disaster-making headlines, not just in the country but worldwide. Japanese cringed when they saw how badly Masatoshi Ono, president of Bridgestone/Firestone, performed when questioned by the US congress.

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