Photo/IllutrationTakao Kato, the newly appointed CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., speaks at a news conference with Osamu Masuko, chairman and current CEO of the automaker, in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on May 20. (Takeho Morita)

The new CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. vowed to follow the path of his long-serving predecessor, who will now focus on ties with Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA in the post-Carlos Ghosn alliance.

“It is our mission to accomplish steady growth by utilizing the alliance and employing a focus strategy,” Takao Kato, who will assume the top post on June 21, said at a news conference in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on May 20.

Kato will replace Osamu Masuko, the current chairman and CEO, the company announced on May 17.

Masuko, who has served as CEO since 2005, will retain the chairman’s post to preside over the task of strengthening the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance that has been shaken by the arrest of Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman.

“I will continue to handle it responsibly,” Masuko said at the news conference. “The future course of the alliance will have a tremendous impact. Because of what has happened and other things, it would be too difficult if I immediately passed the baton to the new CEO.”

Masuko said he will continue to attend tripartite meetings that discuss matters related to the alliance.

Looking back on his 14 years as Mitsubishi Motors’ CEO, Masuko said, “There have been more hardships, and I have been tempered by them.”

Kato also promised to maintain the strong alliance and listed next-generation technology, such as electric vehicles, as one of his first challenges as CEO.

Kato joined Mitsubishi Motors in 1984. He has worked in the factory sector of the company and was in charge of opening the automaker’s factories in Russia and Indonesia.

“He earnestly listened to comments from people in Indonesia,” Masuko said about his successor. “He has the capacity to express an understanding of different cultures. I think he is the right person for CEO.”

(This article was written by Takehiro Tomoda and Satoshi Kimura.)