Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
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.
The local press has likened Akio Toyoda’s nomination to another turning point in Japanese history: the return of power to the imperial family in 1867 from the Tokugawa shogunate, which paved the way for the Meiji Restoration under Emperor Meiji.
“Taisei hokan”, as that historic event is called, has been in the Toyota history lexicon ever since Taizo Ishida somewhat reluctantly took the helm from founder Kiichiro Toyoda in 1950. That year, Kiichiro — Akio’s grandfather — was forced to step down to assuage an angry workforce over sackings that were imperative to saving Toyota from the brink of collapse. Ishida, whose devotion to the Toyoda family is said to have bordered on the religious, vowed to hand back the “throne” to Kiichiro once his duty of fixing the battered company was complete.