The media feeding frenzy over what Large International Automobile Manufacturer may or may not have done/known has brought back a bunch of interesting memories from my time there which I think I'll put down as I recall them.
The first I'll call 労災or dumb and dumber.
One feature of LIAM 1# is as sure as there is a vending machine that dispenses beer around the corner in Japan, there's a weekly group meeting going on somewhere. It is at all levels too. The 部長's (division general mgnr) meet with the 役人's(directors) they report to, the 課長 's (managers)meet with the 部長 they report to, the 係長's(assistant mgnr) meet with the 課長they report to, and at the bottom, the 平社員(staff) meet with the 係長 they report to.
Ok, what goes on? Largely these meetings are a top down report of items on a need to know basis and discussion of local topics One item that gets reported no matter if it happens within the division or elsewhere in the company are 労災: work accidents. Some are tragic such as the 2 deaths I remember from the factories. Others like the one below, well you be the judge.
Like other automobile manufacturers, LIAM1# has several proving grounds in Japan. The most used, built after LIAM1# realized it had outgrown its rather modest proving grounds at its head office, is located in the wilds between Nagoya and Tokyo. It also abuts the Jiheitai's firing range too!! Its a pretty wild place if you can believe such can still exist on the grossly developed east coast of Japan, and within the grounds can be found on occasion, Japan's only poisonous snake, the Mamushi (ok there's the Habu on Okinawa too).
For those not steeped in Japan lore, besides being highly poisonous, the Mamushi, pickled in sake is highly regarded for the supposed aphrodisiac qualities it has (personally, after having a couple glasses of the stuff, I say that claim is waay overblown). Which leads to the story finally.
It was during one of these droning weekly meetings when I then still just a平社員. The係長 said he had a 労災 to report that had occurred within the technical division (where I was). Two men while on the clock discovered a Mamushi lurking in the weeds and had the bright idea of catching and using it to make their own Mamushi Zake. They safely caught the snake, so the report went, but as they were attempting to put the still very live snake into an empty bottle (a crucial element in the proper preparation of Mamushi Zake I was told later), one was bit.
Now the story ended in that the man bit fortunately survived, but as he and his other partner in crime were on the clock, it was treated as an industrial accident and thus the man bit got I assume whatever benefits he was entitled to.
And knowing LIAM1# as I do, they also got a first class ass chewing too.