May 17, 2012

Remarks by Newly Appointed JAMA Chairman Akio Toyoda

Akio Toyoda, Chairman, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc.

Hello, I am (Akio) Toyoda.

At the just-convened Board of Directors meeting, I was appointed chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).  I would like to make some remarks as I assume this post.

Over the past two years, former Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga has contributed tremendously to the automobile industry by exhibiting distinguished leadership on numerous fronts, including carrying out the successful Tokyo Motor Show last year and mobilizing our industry for the rapid recovery and revival following the Great East Japan Earthquake.  I would once again like to express to him my deepest gratitude.

Now, as JAMA’s 15th chairman, I feel deeply inspired as I assume the mantle passed on to me by Mr. Shiga.  This mantlehas been continuously passed on by our predecessors, who all worked hard to advance Japan’s automobile industry.

The organization that became JAMA was inaugurated in 1948.

As all of Japan struggled to find a way forward in the wake of war, the history of JAMA began with the passion of our predecessors, who realized that the development of the car industry was necessary for the reconstruction of a peaceful Japan, and that cars and motorcycles were essential for securing lifestyles of abundance for the nation’s people.

Sixty years later, from large trucks all the way to mini cars and two-wheeled vehicles, the large, small, and varied automobiles and motorcycles we, Japan’s motor-vehicle manufacturers produce, support our customers’ daily lifestyles and livelihoods and have become indispensable for society.

I recognize, anew, the weight of the mantle passed on by my predecessors, and I would like to express my deepest appreciation to not only the automobile manufacturers, but also for the efforts of all the many people and entities that have supported the automobile industry.

To pass this mantle effectively on to the next generation, with two core determinations at heart, I aim to steadfastly work on the activities of JAMA.

My first determination is to sustain the domestic auto industry.

Today, monozukuri (manufacturing) in Japan exists in a harsh environment.  Because of the current strong yen, production bases are moving overseas, while the entire supply chain is in jeopardy of being uprooted and hollowed out.

But I believe it is exactly in these difficult times that the domestic automobile industry should work hard to energize Japan and bring back smiles.  It is with this sentiment that we need to engage in our efforts as we move forward.

JAMA was established “to promote the sound development of the Japanese automobile industry and contribute to social and economic welfare.”

Through the resolve and efforts of our predecessors, the automobile industry has grown to where it can vastly contribute to our country’s employment and economy.

I believe that we cannot do without this same resolve, and I strongly intend, within the framework of JAMA as well, to put forth my utmost effort, so that the automobile industry can continue to meet its responsibilities to employment in Japan and to Japan’s economy.

What I am talking about is not just having strong will and determination.

I believe that our strength, as Japanese automobile manufacturers, lies in the overall accumulated strengths of our supply chains in areas such as materials, components and logistics.  And, among such strengths, I believe that innovations have been born of close communication among the workplaces of technological development, production and sales.

I am convinced that having a definite scale of domestic production is what is needed to bring these strengths of Japan to the fore.

By successfully sustaining our domestic operations, we will be able to sustain the source of our competitiveness.

Furthermore, I want to move forward by overcoming strong international competition through these innovations.

My second determination is for the Japanese automotive industry to play a leading role in the global industry.

As you all know, for the world’s automobile industry, in terms of volume, markets are expected to expand, centered on emerging economies.  Also, in terms of quality, the needs of customers and of society are increasing when it comes to global environmental and energy issues, as well as traffic-safety concerns. 

In this sense, in this age in which the world automobile industry still has room to grow in terms of both volume and quality, I believe what we, Japan’s automobile industry, must have the determination to lead such growth.

Japan entered the automobile industry several decades later than our European and American counterparts, and we have learned much from them, indeed.  Among what we learned, I believe that the philosophy of “competition and cooperation” is most important for the future development of the automobile industry.

In America and in Europe, manufacturers compete in the marketplace under the judging eyes of consumers, but the industry as a whole has cooperated and, over many years, created an abundant car culture.

While we, the Japanese automobile industry, too, take to heart this philosophy of “competition and cooperation”, I would like that we move forward to address themes that are held in common around the world, such as environmental and energy issues.  And I would also like that we do such in harmony with automobile industries worldwide, so that the overall global automobile industry will develop in a healthy way and so that we can play a part in improving the foundations of society in all the countries in which our cars are used.

This brings me to the end of my comments concerning my feelings on being appointed chairman and about our required determination.

Next, I would like to speak about some specific items needing to be addressed.

Our business plans for fiscal 2012 are based on a three-point policy of maintaining monozukuri in Japan, revitalizing the domestic market and creating a mobile society that is comfortable, safe, and that provides peace of mind.

Also, former Chairman Shiga has informed me of several issues that he wishes to be addressed, including the important problem of the automobile tax in Japan.

Under a current government proposal, the consumption tax is to be gradually increased from 2014.  However, if the automobile acquisition tax is left in place while raising the consumption tax, such would create a tremendous burden on consumers.  Together with addressing the motor vehicle weight tax, I would like that we concentrate our efforts on a lessening of the automobile tax burden.

Next, I would like to talk about fostering car enthusiasts.  Thanks to all of you, a great number of people visited the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

Together with the top executives of various automobile manufacturers, I took part in a talk session themed on “memorable cars”.  Personally, I mentioned the Nissan Skyline, the Honda NSX, the Mazda Cosmo Sport, the Mitsubishi Pajero and the Isuzu Bellett.  But I did not have the pleasure of having any one at all choose any Toyota vehicle.

And to this day, I find that, just a little, disappointing.

But, feeling the enthusiasm in the air at the show greatly encouraged me to believe that that there are still many, many people inspired to be fond of cars.

Nowadays, it is said the young are not as close to cars as they once were.  But each and every manufacturer is working hard to come up with attractive vehicles.  JAMA, too, wants to come up with initiatives that will encourage as many people as possible—not just adults and those of senior generations who know cars inside and out; but young men and women, future drivers still in university, high school, and those even younger—to physically feel cars, sense their appeal and experience the joys that come with them.

From now, we are working to make available enjoyable activities, starting with the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013, that fill people with enthusiasm, and I ask you to look forward to them.

Finally, through the coming activities of JAMA, to gain the support of as many people as possible and while keeping in mind the state of monozukuri and state of the automobile industry in Japan, I will, as much as possible, go to where the action is actually taking place to hear what people have to say.  I will do so holding dear the sense and perspective of the workplace and keeping reality in mind.  And I want to be able to relay to all of you what I hear, in a way that reaches your heart.

Together with all the vice chairmen here today, and with all our member companies and the many people related to our industry, I want to exert myself in advancing the automobile industry for the vitality of Japan and for the smiles of the people of this nation.

I humbly request your support and assistance.

Thank you.