TOKYO (Jan. 11)—Bridgestone Corp. CEO Yoichiro Kaizaki will step down from his post after a shareholder meeting in March, according to news reports from Tokyo. Bridgestone Director Shigeo Watanabe has been appointed Kaizaki´s successor. Kaizaki will remain with the Japanese tire maker as a full-time adviser. While no official reason was given for Kaizaki´s departure, he is the second top Bridgestone official to resign in the wake of the 6.5-million Firestone tire recall that began Aug. 9. Masatoshi Ono, CEO of U.S. subsidiary Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., stepped down Oct. 10 and returned to Japan, succeeded in the job by John T. Lampe. Since the recall began, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has attributed 148 deaths and more than 500 injuries to the failure of Firestone tires. Firestone is expected to lose an estimated $500 million this year, and Bridgestone stock has fallen to nine-year lows since the recall began. An estimated 200 lawsuits have been filed related to the tire failures. Bridgestone/Firestone said it officially will announce Kaizaki´s departure soon.