Only a Shred of Evidence Shows Exec Was Criticized

Associated Press

Kanebo Ltd., a major textile and pharmaceutical company, has bought and destroyed all 15,000 published copies of a book criticizing its board chairman, who also is the chairman of Japan Air Lines, Kanebo officials said Wednesday.

The Osaka-based company paid about 10 million yen, roughly $64,700 at current exchange rates, for the books to Seizan Shobo Co., the book’s publisher. There was no indication of whether the publisher agreed not to print more copies.

Kanebo destroyed the books on Wednesday with shredding machines to keep them out of circulation, said a company spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said the book contained “one-sided and factually incorrect” passages about Kanebo Chairman Junji Ito.

The book--"Who Has Exploited the JAL Accident?"--had been scheduled for release Aug. 12. That was the first anniversary of the crash of a JAL Boeing 747 that killed 520 people in the worst single-plane disaster in aviation history.


Geoffrey Tudor, a spokesman for JAL, described the book destruction as a “Kanebo problem,” saying that the “whole matter caught JAL by surprise.” He said Masao Nagata, Kanebo executive director, made the decision to purchase and destroy the books without ever conferring with Ito himself.

The book reportedly was critical of Ito’s labor-management policies in the aftermath of the JAL disaster, Tudor said.

The author, Hiroyuki Fukuda, a reporter on labor affairs for Radio Nippon, also attacked JAL trade unions in the book. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Kanebo spokesman said the author rejected an earlier request by Kanebo to revise portions of the manuscript but accepted the company’s offer to purchase and destroy 15,000 copies of the book.

Kyodo News Service quoted Nagata as saying: “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

In a shake-up of JAL’s leadership after the crash, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone chose Ito last October for the newly created position of JAL vice chairman. Ito was promoted to chairman in June.