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Mitsubishi Shifts Top Jobs: Sonobe Is New U.S. Chairman


Japan's Mitsubishi Motor Corp. shuffled the assignments of numerous key Japanese executives at its chief U.S. operating units Tuesday, part of a wholesale realignment of its executive ranks.

In the top spot in the United States, Takashi Sonobe will take over as chairman and senior chief executive of Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. and of Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc., the company's manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill. Sonobe currently is president and chief executive of Mitsubishi Motor Sales. He will replace Michio Yamashita, who was named executive advisor at Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing.

Hiroshi Yajima, currently Mitsubishi Motor Sales's executive vice president for corporate planning, was named president and chief executive of the Orange County import, distribution and marketing unit.

Mitsubishi said there are no plans at this time to name a replacement for Yajima.

The new president and chief executive of Mitsubishi's U.S. manufacturing operation will be Mitsuru Ito, currently a board member and a general manager at the parent company's Mizushima Motor Vehicle Works factory in Japan.

Yukimichi Kitane, currently board member and deputy corporate general manager of the Passenger Car Strategy Office at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will move to Michigan to become president of Mitsubishi Motors America, the liaison between the company's Japanese and American units.

The company said Seiichi Uo, currently president of Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America Inc., a unit of Mitsubishi Motor Sales, will return to Japan to become managing director of Mitsubishi Auto Credit Lease of Japan.

Company officials said Uo will not be replaced at Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America. Instead, the company will report directly to the senior management of Mitsubishi Motor Sales.

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