Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dot-Asahi: Japanese observers comment on Toyota's own troubles

Circled wagons.

[this translation begins mid-article, skipping all the recitations of background facts in its first paragraphs]. Usual disclaimer on translation quality. This is really more opinion than reporting...


Setting aside the investigation's direction, it is Toyota that is in dire straits. Suspect Hamp was just recently appointed to be in charge of public relations, and was Toyota's first female Managing Officer. Akio Toyoda, who handpicked her, had a press conference on the 19th, the day after her arrest, backing her by saying "for me she is an irreplaceable friend." "I believe that the investigation will clarify that there was no intention to break the law." We asked Tatsumi Tanaka, representative of Risk Hedge, a crisis management consultancy, to comment on what he was uncomfortable with in this press conference.


"The problem is not whether there was intent, the problem was the fact that she was arrested. Even though the arrest was made of a public relations officer who is excluded from responsibility for compliance, it sends a message that the situation is not being taken very seriously." "It reminds me of when members of PM Shinzo Abe's first Cabinet members were disgraced, but the cabinet was spoken of as his "Cabinet of friends."




   Nobuo Tomoda, information HQ chief at Tokyo Shoko Research, also provided a severely critical assessment.

  "It should have been described as 'only a crime by an individual.' If suspect Hamp is found guilty, the company could be seen as 'having defended its own.' "

    Making a bad situation even worse, Toyota's June 24 securities report disclosed president Akio Toyoda's annual compensation of 352 million yen, substantially more than the 120 million yen he earned the previous fiscal year. [note: remember that during this year's Japan Toyota workers union negotiations, the workers demand for higher wages was refused by Toyota representatives who said that it was "totally impossible"] Together with his dividends, he will be receiving about 1.27 billion yen, surpassing even the 1.14 billion yen received by Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's CEO.




Although the compensation may reflect the company's strong performance, perhaps this arrogance has led to the trip-up this time.

  Mr. Tomoda comments: "The Japanese auto industry was very closed compared with other countries, and the personnel itself was revolutionary, with the aim of quick globalization. This failure may also become the seed of the future."

Maybe the "kaizen" method should also be applied to compliance!?