By on February 18, 2010

Public and politicians in Japan are not enthused about Toyota’s latest utterings, especially at yesterday’s news conference. “At home, fiercely loyal Japanese drivers are wondering how a firm with a deserved reputation for quality and reliability could allow substandard vehicles to slip through its vaunted quality-control apparatus,” reports the Christian Science Monitor from Toyko. The natives are getting restless …

The Asahi Shimbun already had flagellated Toyota’s “obtuse reactions to the problems” and warned that “the company has become insensitive to users’ concerns.” Before, words like these would have bordered on treason in a land where Toyota could do now wrong.

After yesterday’s not so stellar show in Tokyo that culminated in the announcement that Akio Toyoda would duck DC hearings, the Japanese government couldn’t take it anymore. Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki announced he had picked up the phone at the Nipponese embassy in Washington and called U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to plead for  “a cool-headed administrative response on Toyota’s recall issue,” as the Nikkei [sub] put it.

“I said I believe the government will handle the issue in an appropriate manner,” Fujisaki said. Hope springs eternal.

In the department of eternal hopes, the Nikkei points out that “Washington plans to promote such infrastructure projects as high-speed railway networks and nuclear power plants. Given that Japanese firms have a competitive edge in such areas, the government’s efforts are expected to help broaden Japanese players’ business opportunities.”  That’ll be the day.

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4 Comments on “Japan’s Ambassador Asks LaHood For “Level Headed response”...”


  • avatar
    L'avventura

    >>“Washington plans to promote such infrastructure projects as high-speed railway networks and nuclear power plants. Given that Japanese firms have a competitive edge in such areas, the government’s efforts are expected to help broaden Japanese players’ business opportunities.”

    The primary focus of getting these contracts will be US jobs creation. That will be the central political behind those contracts.

    Hence, Toshiba-Westinghouse is likely get most (if not all) of the US nuclear contracts. Since its the only firm with close-US contacts and can create US jobs. That is pretty much locked in.

    http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/2010/02/16/southern-co-westinghouse-win-first-nuke-loan-guarantee/

    The only other high-profile big US infrastructure project that a Japanese company is competing for is JR Tokai’s bid for the Florida high-speed rail deal. They are competing with Canadian and European companies. This Toyota recall situation will likely not influence that deal since its really not in the time-frame which it would.

    More importantly, the deal is about US jobs creation, the contract will go to the project that is most cost efficient and creates the most US jobs. Which is why JR Tokai’s bid involves building the trains in a Florida factory and using mostly US suppliers.

    The bid will go to the company that can best meet the “Buy America” provisions within the stimulus money with the least cost and best quality.

    A Florida rail built by Floridians, with trains built in Florida, and creating jobs for the Floridian voting public rather then creating jobs in France, Japan, or Canada. This will be the central political motivation for the decision makers.

    • 0 avatar

      While creating jobs in the short term and the ongoing usual maintenance and operations jobs, these sort of public transportation projects tend to be an on-going drain on the state. The proposed Ohio “3-C” not-so-high-speed high speed rail (only 97 mph… are you kidding me?) would be a $17 million annual drain on the Ohio economy, that’s $17 large the state doesn’t have. Another feel good boondoggle we don’t need.

  • avatar
    late_apex

    I’d envision that conversation to go something like:

    Ichiro Fujisaki: Ray, let’s not turn this into a witch hunt. All manufactures have recalls at some point. Be fair to Toyota even though you don’t have any vested financial interest in the company.

    Ray Lahood: Who is this?

    Ichiro Fujisaki: I’m from the Japanese embassy. We’ve met multiple times.

    Ray Lahood: Are you with Ed’s group or Sergio’s group? I talk to those guys daily.

    Ichiro Fujisaki: I’m not with any car manufacturing group. I’m the ambassador for Japan and am concerned about the objectivity of your recent stance in regards to Toyota’s troubles.

    Ray Lahood: Ok, you’re with the enemy…that’s right. Ok, I know who you are now. Why are you calling again?

    Ichiro Fujisaki: Thank you for your time and Good Day Sir-

    Ray Lahood: Hmmm, must have been a wrong number. Let me call Ed back…

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