Deliverer of Lifelines, Former Mitsubishi CEO Masuko Dies at 71

Osamu Masuko, the longtime Mitsubishi Motors boss who guided his company through turbulent waters, helped craft an alliance with Nissan and partner Renault, only to find his ship back in storm-tossed seas, has died just three weeks after his unexpected departure.

Masuko died on Thursday, aged 71, Japanese media reports. The former chairman announced his resignation on August 7th.

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Mitsubishi Chairman Osamu Masuko Abruptly Resigns

A longtime presence at the top of Mitsubishi Motors departed his post Friday morning, marking the end of an era for the embattled Japanese automaker. Company Chairman Osamu Masuko, 71, resigned effective immediately today, following a six-year tenure at the top of a company he joined in 1972.

Masuko, who rose to become president of the company in 2005 and CEO in 2014, cited health reasons for his sudden departure.

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Mitsubishi's CEO Is Packing It In

After seeing its fortunes switch from dire to promising over the past few years, Mitsubishi Motors will gain a new chief operating officer on June 21. On Friday, the automaker announced that Osamu Masuko plans to step down as CEO, five years after taking on the job.

Under Masuko’s watch, the automaker rekindled its North American business and entered the Renault-Nissan Alliance, ensuring cost-effective technology and platform sharing in the years ahead.

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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Seeks 'New Start'

A meeting rumored to be targeted at developing a new board to oversee the Renault-Mitsubishi-Nissan Alliance took place earlier this week at Nissan’s global headquarters, sans Carlos Ghosn, with the automakers agreeing to a consensus-based governing strategy. At the heart of this pact is the need to diffuse tensions between France and Japan.

If you’ll recall, Nissan had grown perturbed by its perceived lack of autonomy within the alliance and repeated merger talk coming from Ghosn prior to his arrest. The man himself claimed that the corporate conflict is ultimately what led to his undoing — suggesting Nissan’s CEO simply wanted him out of the picture before he was fired.

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Mitsubishi Sides With Nissan in Merger Backlash, Ghosn Claims He Was Set Up

Depending who you ask, the November arrest of disgraced auto executive Carlos Ghosn was either swift justice or a coup d’etat — with some help from the Japanese government. Re-arrested in December and held ever since without bail, Ghosn faces breach of trust charges alleging the exec covered losses incurred through foreign exchanges with Nissan’s funds between 2008 and 2012. Those losses add up to $16.6 million, according to the prosecution. He’s also cited for misrepresenting his income.

However, Ghosn doesn’t see things that way. On Wednesday, he told the Nikkei business daily that he believed the charges against him were motivated by Nissan executives opposed to further integration with its French alliance partner, Renault SA. “All the evidence is with Nissan and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me,” he elaborated.

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Mitsubishi President Resigns Over Fuel Economy Scandal

He’s been with the company since the Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger era, but Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa’s tenure comes to an abrupt end in June.

Aikawa stepped down today after less than two years at the helm, the victim of his company’s ongoing fuel economy scandal, according to an announcement from the automaker. Ryugo Nakao, the company’s executive vice-president in charge of quality, is also out the door.

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