By on February 10, 2010

Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda was already getting ready to “visit the United States over massive recalls of its vehicles,” reported the Nikkei [sub]. Japan’s transport minister Seiji Maehara told U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos that Toyoda would be dispatched to DC. There, he would be ready to  “explain the recall problems to the U.S. Congress if asked.”

In a later report, the Nikkei said Toyoda’s trip has been pushed back “to early March.” Toyoda was ready to leave “Japan for Washington as early as Wednesday, but the heavy snowfall in the U.S. capital city ended up delaying those plans. The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled committee hearings on Toyota’s problems for Feb. 24 and 25, while the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing March 2.”

So far, Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, was supposed to appear at the hearings. Today, Representative Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said he’s e is inviting Akio Toyoda to meet members of Congress. Issa also said he is urging his committee’s chairman to invite Toyoda to the February 24 meeting.

Most think that Inaba would be the better witness, but both governments apparently think it’s more appropriate to send the boss himself.

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12 Comments on “Akio Toyoda Getting Ready For A DC Grilling...”

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Masatoshi Ono 2000 redux

  • avatar

    Being that both diplomats from the US and Japan have stepped into this situation, and both have tried to calm fears of a strained US-Japanese relationship, its clear that this Toyota recall has taken a very political/diplomatic turn.

    It seems to me that a lot things are going to happen behind closed doors before the congressional hearings. The question is how its going to play out and how much of it is going to be predetermined and politically orchestrated. Will Toyota be sacrificed for Japanese national interests? Or will Toyota be saved for US national security interests? Or will it be a bit of both?

    Let’s not forget, Roos last week was campaigning hard on the issue of US troops in Okinawa, especially considering China’s ascendancy and military build up- an issue important to Japan as well.

    ..and the Okinawa issue still brewing with a lot of opposition (the Japanese would obviously prefer a base on Guam rather then Okinawa)

  • avatar

    This is an unnecessary witch hunt. To quote Janet Napolitano: “The system worked”.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe “The System Worked” should be Toyota’s new slogan.

      “It Took Years & Deaths for the System to Work” is more accurate, and right after Toyota execs get grilled, LaHood & Co. need to jump (or more likely, pushed) into the DC BBQ pit.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    NHTSA will be flailed more than Toyota in the hearings.

    When we combine
    (1) the deal negotiated between a Toyota employee, formerly on NHTSA staff, with his former coworkers at NHTSA to limit the investigation of unintended acceleration claims to instances of one second or less, with
    (2) State Farm’s warnings to NHTSA on Toyota in 2007, which resulted in an extremely limited recall,

    I would much rather be on Toyota’s staff than NHTSA’s staff at the hearings. NHTSA will get flailed.

    • 0 avatar

      Punishing the NHTSA has very little political cost, it will likely be blamed on Bush-era politics, and it will give Congress an excuse to reprimand Toyota while giving an illusion of fairness.

      At this point, given all the political figures involved that would otherwise be irrelevant, and given what is going on in the international relationship between Japan and the US, this is obviously just political theatre.

      The likely outcome as it stands is a reprimand on both Toyota and NHTSA, Toyota maybe gets a small fine, NHTSA gets a big boost in budget along with some harsh words, Lahood is commended for his hard work, and the current administration comes out looking pro-consumer while avoiding the impression they are acting to protect domestic brands.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, this thing’s setting up as a 12-way gunfight, with the politicians on both sides, “private” OEM’s on both sides, Government Motors OEM’s on both sides, bureaucracies and regulatory agencies on both sides, diplomats on both sides, and both publics.

    And it’s not just Waxman pushing this. California Congressman Issa just called for the Toyota CEO to testify, so that means we have a bipartisan California movement in play, to punish Toyota for the NUMMI closing.

    Government Motors has much to fear here, I suspect. If Emperor Toyota shows up and says he’s recalling every drive-by-wire Toyota ever built for a reflash, to provide brake override of the accelerator pedal (and he’s bringing them all in seemingly NOW, so it might not even cost him anything), then he sorta forces Government Motors to do likewise.

    How many drive by wire Government Motors vehicles are out there zipping around right now? If it’s, say, $100 per reflash, that’s a lot of Chinese-borrowed dollars, if they have to reflash every vehicle in sight.

    And if they don’t do it, after Toyota demurely bowed and said THEY are, don’t think a gazillion trial lawyers won’t notice. Think those trial lawyers will ignore this, and not take advantage of all the recent “sudden acceleration” advertising for their litigation slot machine? Yeah, right.

    Interesting times. Yeah, there’s a lot of backroom negotiating going on right now.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Anytime someone says “Government Motors”, I stop listening. And I work for Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      You should start listening. After they’re done with Toyota, Ford’s up next. Do you honestly think the U.S. Government is going to let Ford destroy or diminish their investment?

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I can’t make out what is to be gained here so I can’t predict what the offense party (congress) will assert.

    Other than congress posturing as not sleeping at the switch, which they are of course. As always.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    >>>”Anytime someone says “Government Motors”, I stop listening. And I work for Ford”<<<<<

    Ford is part of Government Motors, Telegraph. Don't kid yourself. They have their hand out, even as they posture as something different. They're taking advantage of the same loans the other Detroit 3 are. As disgusting at it is, the taxpayers are paying for your job, in other words. You're working because we pay for you to work. Deal with it.

    And if you want that to change, tell Ford to pull their hand back and stop taking that money.

  • avatar

    Ive heard that a backroom deal has been brokered to satisfy the US Congressmen.
    Several dozen of the older congressmen will be roused from their sleep in order that their Depends be changed. These diapers will be filled with defective American made parts such as GM head gaskets, GM dimmer switches, twisted GM window regulators, extra dim Chrysler headlights, flammable Ford wiring harnesses and melted Ford alternators.
    A B-17 bomber will be chartered to take these congressmen and their diapers on a flight over Toyota City where they will be awakened long enough to throw these diapers and defective parts out of the plane and hopefully to land a few of them on rooftops of the residents of T.C.
    Mr Toyoda has apparently agreed to this humiliation in the hope that it will allow the congressmen to come away satisfied that they have shown their ageing yellow teeth to the Evil Empire.
    The only other choice offered to Mr Toyoda was a tar and feathering but he wasn’t up for it.

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