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Industrial Production Continuing to Seesaw in Japan


Japan's Economy Ministry says the industrial production index registered a 2.1 percent drop in February from the previous month. The ministry blames the fall on electronics parts makers focusing on selling existing stock rather than on new production.

The index has been alternately rising and falling every month since last October, leading to a consensus that Japan's industrial production overall remains flat.

Japan's latest jobs data shows unemployment rising by a fifth of a percent in February to 4.7 percent, the first increase in seven months.

But the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry says it believes the employment picture is actually brightening. It says more people feel confident about looking for work because corporate restructuring has run its course and the employment situation has stabilized.

Mitsubishi Motors says it intends to sue seven former board members. The ailing automaker wants compensation from them for their role in allegedly ordering secret repairs of defective trucks without publicly recalling the vehicles.

The cover-up led to a criminal investigation and sent sales of Mitsubishi vehicles plunging in Japan and the United States.

The chief executive of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus has again apologized. Mr. Wilfried Porth apologized this time for delays in alerting authorities to a new defect affecting thousands of domestic trucks. He says the company was busy dealing with the earlier cover-ups.

"But in this case there is no illegal action," said Mr. Porth. "And this is why my responsibility and commitment is unchanged to drive the change in the company."

The truck maker says the latest defect could result in fires or parts dropping off vehicles.

In the wake of the initial defect scandal five-years ago, which led to two deaths, Fuso was spun off by Mitsubishi Motors. It is now 85-percent owned by Daimler Chrysler.

Another Japanese bank is informing depositors that it may have lost their personal data. Mizuho Bank says it is not certain what happened to information on as many as 270,000 customers.

This is the latest in a series of such mishaps in Japan's banking industry. A year ago, Citibank's Japan unit lost information on 120,000 accounts, while last month, Aozora Bank lost data of 26,000 depositors.

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