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Mainland company buys bankrupt bus company

Date Posted: 2004-07-16

One of Okinawa’s four bankrupt bus companies has a new owner.

Naha Kotsu is being brought back to life in the hands of a mainland Japanese taxi company, Daiichi Kotsu Sangyo. The new company officially takes over on Sunday.

Already, Naha Kotsu’s busses are being changed to reflect the new name and log, and workers are being briefed on new contracts, rules and working conditions.

The new company, wanting a viable startup, is offering lower salaries to former Naha Kotsu workers coming back to their old jobs, and revised working conditions are being described as “very hard”. Workers say, though, they’ve no choice, because they need the jobs.

The revamped bus company’s new name is Naha Bus, headed by president Ryochiro Tanaka. Tanaka, from Kitakyushu, says “I’m going to change the ideas of how to do business. It is not going to be like the former Naha Kotsu way, but this is a service business. We need to take care of customers, and more importantly, to respect the customers.”

Tanaka pledges that busses will always run on time, on schedule. There won’t be delays, and he promises that drivers will wear a smile and engage customers in bright, happy talk.

The new owner’s taxi business is operating successfully in the Kyushu area. Tanaka predicts “I’ll make a profitable business within two years in Okinawa too. That’s a promise.” He’s cut the number of workers, and workers salaries as well, so some former employees are not returning.

The former Naha Kotsu’s workers union was opposed to the company policies which led to its being sold to the mainland company. The union promises never to accept the new company’s conditions, and will never work with the new president.

In response, the new owners forced the union to dissolve, and is not hiring any of the individuals involved. In fact, Tanaka said “I’m going to put company power more to the tourists charter bus business even more.” He indicates he doesn’t need the union.

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