Mitsubishi apologizes, offers $56 million for Chinese forced labour in WW2 — 71 years after war’s end!

Click to enlargeXinhua/Wang Haofei
Sun Yuanxin, 1 of 20 survivors, views remains of hundreds who died at this mine

A Japanese company that used Chinese forced labour in its coalmines during the second world war has agreed to compensate and apologise to thousands of victims and their families.

Mitsubishi Materials, one of dozens of Japanese companies that used such labourers from China and the Korean peninsula, said it would pay US$15,000 to each of the surviving victims and the families of those who have died.

If all 3,765 people entitled to compensation come forward, the total payout could reach US$56m, making it the biggest deal of its kind so far – From Imperial Japan.

“We have come to the conclusion that we will extend an apology [to the victims] and offer the money as a proof of that apology,” a Mitsubishi Materials spokesman said…

The victims hailed the decision a victory in their long quest for Japanese companies to take responsibility for bringing an estimated 40,000 Chinese to Japan between 1943 and 1945 to work in factories and mines amid a wartime labour shortage.

Almost 7,000 of them died due to the harsh working conditions and malnutrition…

Some of the relatives of former labourers, however, were concerned the settlement was in lieu of official compensation from the Japanese government, which insists that all reparation claims were covered by postwar treaties with former victims of Japanese militarism.

I’m surprised they didn’t wait for a nice round number — like 100 years, eh? Just continue the official Japanese policy of doing little or nothing to compensate anyone for the war crimes committed in the name of that militarist nation. Might only be a dozen or so survivors left by then.

They know they will be backed up all the way by Uncle Sugar – who gets to use Japan’s territory as their own private aircraft carrier and military barracks to “interact” with Asia.

Ship rides on air bubble blanket to reduce emissions

Mv Harvest FrostPhoto credit: MHI

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has announced the delivery of the first of three post-panamax bulk carriers to achieve energy efficient operations through the use of an air bubble lubrication system.

The recently delivered bulk carrier, MV Harvest Frost, is the first vessel of its size to use MHI’s proprietary Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS), which reduces the drag between the vessel hull and seawater by blowing air bubbles produced at the vessel bottom. MHI says that use of the system has been proven to help Harvest Frost achieve a 27% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventional bulk carriers, exceeding the target figure of 25%…

The MALS system uses special blowers to blow air from the vessel’s bottom, producing small air bubbles that cover the bottom of the hull like an “air-carpet,” reducing friction between the hull and seawater during navigation. The system was developed by MHI with support from ClassNK, and has already been adopted in module carriers, ferries and other ships constructed by MHI, the company says.

Harvest Frost also features a new bow shape designed to reduce resistance, while shallow draught facilities help the MALS achieve its target energy savings. For propulsion, an innovative system is adopted that effectively converts the main engine power into propulsion power by positioning fins forward of the propellers and placing special grooves in the propeller boss cap, according to MHI.

As much as I search and read about energy improvements in transportation, I admit this is the first I’ve heard of this system. Obviously it’s moved through pilot testing to production. This is one of the largest vessels utilizing the system.

I’m impressed. Significant savings from one of the least fuel efficient transportation modes around.

One year of owning the Chevy Volt + work, commuting = 237mpg

Chevy Volt belonging to Lyle Stuart, founder of

My Chevrolet Volt was delivered on December 17th 2010, and as of today I have owned and operated the vehicle for a full year.

It is nearly five years in fact since I first founded this website in an effort to gain and sustain national attention on electric cars and this vehicle in particular, and to push GM to develop it…

To this day I still get a thrill when I jump in and power it up. I drive often with a smile on my face. I thoroughly love not using gas almost of of the time, and having the safety and freedom to kick in the gas generator when needed.

I have found the car of impeccably high quality and 100% reliable performance in all kinds of driving situations and environments. The car is worthy of all the awards it has received.

Thus far I have put on 8,635 miles and used a paltry 36.6 gallons of gas with a lifetime fuel efficiency of 237 miles per gallon…

My oil life still says 56% and I haven’t changed it. I rotated the tires at 7,500 miles and had a software upgrade performed…

Though perhaps not important, I am a bit surprised GM won’t meet its first year target of 10,000 cars. Considering all the attention and robust discussion I observed while running this site, and the calls by many for great volumes, I was sure demand would be higher. Eventually I still think it will. A lot of it is economic. In these tough financial times with gas prices stable, the $41,000 without tax break price tag remains out of reach for many. It is great though that the car is on the road so that in the future, through economies of scale the price will drop and more will be sold. As well, surely some are waiting for the first generation to work out its kinks and are watching on the sidelines eventually planning to buy a next generation model.

There were naysayers ever since the Volt concept was announced in January 2007, and many are still here today and will be ad infinitum. They may never be silenced, but the reality is GM has made the dream come true of a mass production electric car with range extender and it is an awesome thing indeed. I also think its fair to say the company ushered in a new era of accessible electric transportation as essentially every automaker has followed suit with electric cars of their own.

Lyle is right about the price. Certainly in my family. I’d love to have a Volt be our next car; but, the cost/benefit ratio just ain’t worth it – yet. We’d need an extra 10 years beyond the 10 year minimum we look at when purchasing a vehicle. Even though – we buy good enough designs and practice sufficient maintenance – we have gone well beyond that 10 year number with our existing passenger car and pickup truck. The Volvo has almost 30 years and 280,000 miles on it. The Dodge pickup is a 1994 and has gone over 220,000 miles.

Right now, the leading contenders to replace the Volvo are the Prius Aqua – landing next year, the VW Golf diesel and the electric Mitsubishi i-Miev. After federal tax credits – we get squat from the state of New Mexico – they would cost $9-14K less than the Volt.

Hawaii Teacher of the Year wins Mitsubishi iMIEV for a year

The teaching profession catches a lot of political flak these days [mostly from dunderheads], so it’s nice to see a story like this, where a deserving educator gets what we would consider a pretty cool prize.

Chad Miller, a high school teacher in Kailua, Hawaii, will be rolling around in a Mitsubishi i MIEV for a year, provided by his local Mitsu dealer. Miller will also get two charging stations – one for home and another for his school – courtesy of AeroVironment. The EV was awarded to Miller for being named State Teacher of the Year.

We’ve written before about how Hawaii represents a perfect environment for electric cars, and this prize seems like a good grassroots marketing effort for both Mitsubishi and EVs in general. No doubt Miller will be the focus of some amount of attention from Kailua High’s thousand-plus students, especially since a charging station will be installed at the school.

Although he is a language arts teacher, we hope Miller will be generous in letting some of the science teachers at the school develop some curriculum around the car, as well.

I certainly hope so, as well. None of the teachers in my family ever got such a snazzy prize – even when they won comparable awards.

Chipmakers fined by EU for price-fixing

Nine chip makers have been fined 331 million euros by European Union regulators for illegally fixing prices.

The companies involved are Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Elpida and Nanya.

A 10th chip maker, Micron, was also part of the price-fixing cartel but escaped a fine in return for alerting the competition authorities.

The chips – DRAMS – are used in popular items such as personal computers.

Samsung received the biggest single fine of 146m euros. The second biggest was 57m euros, which was levied on Germany’s Infineon…

The cartel, in operation between 1998 and 2002, involved a “network of contacts” who shared secret information. They colluded to set prices for DRAM chips sold to major PC makers and server manufacturers…

All but one of the companies, Germany’s Infineon, are non-EU businesses.

But, they surely were making a bundle from their sales into the European Union.

The next obvious question? What’s happening with these firms in the United States?

Mitsubishi hopes to electrify Japan next month with the i-Miev

Mitsubishi Motors announced that its heavily anticipated i-MiEV electric car will begin being leased to corporate and government customers in Japan in July. Individuals who want to purchase the EVs will have to wait until next April, when it will sell for a suggested $45,000 U.S. (before taxes).

The all-electric vehicle will have 100 mile range using lithium ion batteries. The i-MiEV will have an onboard charger so that it can charge into standard outlets in Japan (100 or 200 volt). Charge times to replenish the 16 kWh battery pack will be 7-14 hours, although Mitsubishi is developing fast charging stations that will take just half an hour…

Mitsubishi has been stoking demand for the EVs around the world by selecting cities as their first international locations for field tests. Vancouver B.C., Portland and the Principality of Monaco will all receive early i-MiEVs to evaluate their suitability outside of Japan.

Mitsubishi will be among the first large-scale automotive OEMs to sell an EV in more than a decade.

Drafting behind Mitsubishi with all electric vehicles will be Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan, which has powerful partners in Renault and charging station vendor Better Place.

Certainly, there’s a place for electric among commuter-mobiles.

My wife’s roundtrip to her IT department uses 1 gallon of gas = 24 miles, 5 days a week. At $45K, I don’t see her replacing her ancient Volvo any time soon. I think a Smart Car, Honda Insight or even a Toyota Yaris is more likely if and when she does.

Let’s see if the economies of scale get the i-Miev down to that price range.

Mitsubishi first major carco to roll out mass-market electric car

Mitsubishi has unveiled the first mass-market electric car from a mainstream car maker. Slightly bigger than the Smart ForTwo but with a similar design, the i-MiEV — which goes on sale in the UK later this year — is based on the i, Mitsubishi’s existing city car. With room for four adults, it has a top speed of 87mph and produces the equivalent of 57 horsepower.

Its lithium-ion battery has a range of 100 miles and can be charged from flat to 80% in 20 minutes using Mitsubishi’s bespoke high-powered charger; otherwise, a normal mains electricity socket will charge the battery from flat to full in six hours. Mitsubishi estimates that the car can travel 10,000 miles on £45 of electricity at current UK domestic prices…

Kieren Puffett, editor of car website who took the i-MiEV for a test drive today, said the car was ideal for urban areas. “Through the town, the car is particularly torquey, it can get away from traffic lights and across roundabouts really quite quickly. That’s quite a nice benefit for town driving.”

He added: “Because it’s based on an existing city car, the characteristics are fairly familiar. If someone got in, I don’t think they’d notice anything massively adrift.”

Puffett had some reservations, however, about Mitsubishi’s claims on the car’s range. “I deliberately drove the car with headlights, heater and the radio on. I did about 50 minutes of driving and covered about 22 miles — and I discharged the battery to half way from full.”

The cost per mile is what impresses me. If the gasoline-engined version gets 40mpg, that’s about $500 or more for 10,000 miles. Versus $75 or so for the electric version? What could be someone’s hangup over a neat commuter-mobile like this?

Europeans are already smart enough to be driving little critters like this forth-and-back to work and shopping – instead of Ford F150 pickups or Toyota Landcrushers.