By on March 8, 2010

Back from his hibachi-tour to the hill, and a trip to China, Akio Toyoda this afternoon paid his respects to Japan’s Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, to Economy Minister Masayuki Naoshima, and to the man himself, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. And what a difference it was compared to the enhanced interrogation in Washington.

Toyoda “promised to improve quality control to recover consumer confidence badly shaken by a recent spate of global recalls,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. Toyoda told his Prime Minister ”that we are going to strive to build better cars so people will say Toyota is once again a more transparent and customer-focused company.”

In private, Toyoda probably complained a bit about the barbarian behavior in the U.S.A., neh? In the communiqué, this was simply listed as “Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, also briefed Hatoyama about his recent testimony at a U.S. congressional hearing.”

Toyoda said his Prime Minister left him with the advice to “do your best” in regaining customers’ trust, but didn’t provide any specific guidance as to how the auto maker should deal with the recalls.

After the meeting at the prime minister’s residence, Toyoda said they will close NUMMI on April 1, as planned.

Transport Minister Maehara told reporters that he is considering meeting U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss the Toyota issue when he visits the U.S. in April or May.

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7 Comments on “Toyoda Reports Back To His Prime Minister...”

  • avatar

    Did it look like this?

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    Was this a meeting scheduled long in advance? Or was it specifically in response to the hearings in the U.S.?

    It is normal that government ministers, even heads of state, meet with captains of industry. It would be curious, however, to construct a meeting specifcally in response to hearings related to regulatory oversight of a foreign nation, in a foreign nation. Well, only if the (Japanese) government weren’t part and parcel of it’s automakers. Which it is and has been.

    In addition, if the U.S. Congress isn’t qualified to conduct oversight of Toyota because of government interest in its competitors, shouldn’t Congress critters with Toyota facilities in their districts and/or who have received lobbying cash from Toyota also be disqualified? And who would that leave?

    Finally, if Toyota does truly feel put upon by U.S. regulation and oversight, they are not compelled to do business here. Funny how we haven’t heard anything even remotely like that! Somehow, I don’t think Toyota feels the hearings and underlying regulatory scheme is as unfair or biased as some would have us believe.

    • 0 avatar

      The Nikkei says: “In a rare move for a top executive of an auto maker, Toyoda had a series of meetings with Hatoyama and other ministers to brief them on his visit to the U.S. ….”

      Apparently, it is not normal.


    • 0 avatar
      Detroit Todd

      Which begs the question, why? What interest does the Japanese Government have in regulatory oversight hearings in the United States Congress, for business done in the United States?

      If Toyota is a privately-held company, there would be no reason.

    • 0 avatar
      Tricky Dicky

      Is it really so hard to work out Todd? I imagine that Big-T is one of the largest employers in Japan, is one of the largest earners of foreign currency and is certainly representative of the whole nation’s brand image of quality manufacturing. So if one big company screws up big time, then it puts everybody else in the Japanese economy in some jeopardy.

      And none of this deals with the other side of the equation. Are Toyota being fairly dealt with? Is there any credibility to the feeling that perhaps they are being singled-out and given more harsh treatment than other auto companys? Of course the Japanese gov’t want Toyoda’s opinion about that because these are the things which can open up hugely damaging trade wars.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit Todd

      Not hard to figure out at all, TD. In fact, it’s readily transparent, as I’ve noted above.

      Trade war? Really? Over the U.S. Government performing its oversight obligations?

      Allegations of Toyota being treated unfairly are nonsense. Some people would have us believe that Obama and Pelosi broke into Toyota HQ in the middle of the night and sabotaged Toyota’s electronics. It just didn’t happen.

      Toyota passes plenty of money around to D.C. and local politicians, and has facilities in many Congressional Districts. No one here has addressed that point, or alleged that any undue positive bias would result.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, if this type of meeting is not “normal”, I’d have to assume the Japanese PM is sending some type of message here, to Toyota, to his countrymen, to those outside his country, or some combination. And I know we’re US-centric here, but when I say “those outside his country”, I’m talking mostly about a certain non-US country, which I’m sure you can identify.

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