A wheel flies off of a moving tractor-trailer and hits a passing mother and child. The young mother dies. The manufacturer of the truck claims in its report that the fault lies with the trucking company for "inadequate maintenance," but the president of the trucking company refuses to accept this conclusion and seeks to learn the truth. The plot is based on a real-life story of a major automaker covering up the need for a recall, and sets up a classic David and Goliath battle between the small Akamatsu Trucking Company and the gigantic Hope Group, a business conglomerate that includes financial, commercial, and heavy-industry enterprises.
After the fatal accident, Akamatsu Trucking is promptly served with a search warrant by the police, and informed by major clients and banks that they are terminating all dealings with the company. Attending the dead woman's funeral brings a shower of insults, and President Akamatsu's elementary-age son is subjected to bullying at school. Although Akamatsu initially rips into the young mechanic who serviced the truck and sends him packing, he quickly realizes his mistake; he goes to apologize and asks him to return. Convinced that the accident was not caused by a maintenance issue but rather owes to a structural fault in the truck as designed by Hope Automotive, he realizes he has no choice but to do battle with the giant.
Big-business culture stands in his way at every turn. The officials he tries to reach refuse to see him or take his calls. Despite suffering a public relations disaster four years earlier for another recall cover-up, Hope Automotive has failed to put corrective measures in place, relying instead on the support of other group companies to keep things running. The company instinctively goes into whitewash mode again, but a few mavericks reject this approach. In an effort to fight the cover-up, they leak information to a weekly magazine, but the scoop is killed by pressure from the Hope Group just before it is to hit the stands. Though discouraged, Akamatsu doggedly makes his way through a list of accidents given him by a reporter, checking out each one that is stamped "inadequate maintenance," one by one. At long last someone offers proof that another of the designated accidents could not have been caused by faulty upkeep. His seemingly hopeless quest takes a sudden turn . . .
Praised as both a meaty business novel and page-turning entertainment, the work made the short list for two major prizes?the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers and the Naoki Prize.
(Vol. 1) ISBN 978-4062764520
(Vol. 2) ISBN 978-4062764537, 448pages