Bridgestone President Rejects Report That Lawsuits Could Close Firestone
                    December 6, 2000

                    By TODD ZAUN
                    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                    TOKYO -- Bridgestone Corp. said it would set aside $450 million this
                    year to cover damage claims against its U.S. Firestone unit and flatly
                    rejected a media report that lawsuits over allegedly faulty tires could
                    bankrupt the U.S. subsidiary.

                                         Reacting to a sharp decline in Bridgestone's
                                         shares on Tuesday, company president Yoichiro
                                         Kaizaki firmly denied a newspaper report that
                                         legal claims against Nashville-based
                                         Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. may reach $50 billion
                                         and force the U.S. company to fold its
                                         operations. Shares in Bridgestone fell 14% to
                                         1,252 yen ($11.28), down 200 yen.

                                         Bridgestone/Firestone "is not in a state of
                                         insolvency" and has no plans to file for
                                         bankruptcy, Mr. Kaizaki said. "We have not even
                                         considered such a thing," he said at a news
                                         conference in Tokyo.

                                         Mr. Kaizaki said Bridgestone would continue to
                                         support Firestone to help it recover from the
                    Aug. 9 recall of 6.5 million tires, most of which were sold with Ford
                    Motor Co.'s popular Explorer sport-utility vehicles. Failures of those
                    tires are allegedly linked to 119 deaths in the U.S. and more than 40
                    overseas, and Firestone faces a growing wave of lawsuits by accident
                    victims and their relatives.

                    Mr. Kaizaki refused to elaborate on how Bridgestone calculated its $450
                    million estimate for legal damages, saying only that "our accountants
                    and lawyers assure us this will be enough to cover damage awards."

                    The estimate would bring total costs related to the recall for
                    Bridgestone to $900 million for this year, Mr. Kaizaki said. Bridgestone
                    had already announced that replacing recalled tires with new ones would
                    cost $450 million. Firestone has reserves to easily cover the costs, Mr.
                    Kaizaki said.

                    In addition to the direct costs, Firestone has suffered from bad publicity
                    surrounding the recall. Last month, Bridgestone said sales of Firestone
                    replacement tires for cars and light trucks fell about 40% in the U.S. in
                    September and October from a year earlier.

                    The Bridgestone share slide Tuesday in Tokyo was in response to a
                    report in USA Today that with a potential $50 billion in damage claims
                    piling up, lawyers suing Firestone fear the company may file for
                    bankruptcy. The lawyers are attempting to add the company's Japanese
                    parent company, Bridgestone, to their lawsuits, USA Today reported.

                    Ford and Firestone are preparing to brief U.S. National Highway Traffic
                    Safety Administration officials starting Dec. 11 on their investigations
                    into the root cause of the tire failures. The agency is trying to determine
                    whether Firestone should be forced to broaden its recall, which is now
                    limited to certain Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II tires. Regulators have
                    said an additional 1.4 million tires of various sizes are dangerous and
                    should be included in the recall, but Firestone disputes that claim.

                    Write to Todd Zaun at