Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Today, reporters got their first chance to hear from Akio Toyoda since he became president of Toyota Motor — the company established by his grandfather 71 years ago.
Just two days on the job and much younger than the five executive vice presidents present with him at the news conference, Mr Toyoda, 53, was predictably cautious in what seemed a thoroughly scripted response to reporters’ questions. At times, he visibly flipped through the pages of what I could only surmise was a prepared Q&A cheat-sheet. Even the soundbites — “we’re setting sail in very stormy waters” — seemed unspontaneous.
But for a few minutes, it seemed, you could see the real Akio Toyoda come through.
It was when he was responding to a question about whether he would continue to race, as he did last month for the third straight year on the notoriously dangerous Nurburgring race track for the 24-hour endurance race.
Jan. 20 marked a new beginning for more than just Americans, who swore in Barack Obama as their first non-white president in history. It was a big day for the auto industry too: the dawn of a Fiat-Chrysler partnership, and the appointment of a founding family member to the top job at Toyota Motor Corp for the first time in 14 years.
The Toyota move, first flagged in Japanese media a month ago, has been highly sensationalized in Japan.