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Toyota undecided on president's trip to U.S.

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simple toyota needs decisive leadership and it is not coming from Toyoda

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Don't do it! Both Democrats and Republicans will just put on a show for the cameras that could set back US-Japan relations. Although it would be a bad idea to go before the US Congress, it would be helpful for a high level representative to come to the US - the companies largest market - and make it clear that the company is doing all it can to resolve the various problems that they and their customers are facing. It wouldn't hurt to brush up on American culture and how to handle the PR is that country. Just bowing and apologies are not how to do it.

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Why should Toyoda talk to the board of directors of his main competitor?

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This is common sense,nobody goes into meetings of any sorts, unless they have all the facts in front of them.Toyota as a company is no different.Toyota is taking a hammering from all quarters at the moment,and from the land of litigation,greedy lawyers are looking at anything that might bring them a payday.They are looking at any deaths from any accidents were a toyota vehicle was involved.This is going to be around for quite a while.But I hope that all Toyota bashers are aware ,that like all multi national companies ,these companies provide much needed jobs in many countries.

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Wolfpack;

"Don't do it! Both Democrats and Republicans will just put on a show for the cameras that could set back US-Japan relations."

Relations are already strained, and Toyoda has little choice- the US government has already told him they will subpeona him if necessary, that is a pretty strong request in my books.

What you are seeing now is "positioning". Toyoda knows he has to show, but wants everyone to think "he" will decide when and where. So much for "putting on a show".

minello7;

"But I hope that all Toyota bashers are aware"

Stop the presses ! "I" hope all Toyota supporters are aware that as many as 19 deaths have been attributed to Toyota defective cars with more than 200 injuries and thousands of complaints - please don't lecture us or start the "Toyota basher" nonsense.

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Toyota suddenly canceled the planned event last week, acknowledging celebration was inappropriate amid the recalls.

Big mistake, what Toyota needs to show right now is defiance. They are up against a culture that decorates and commends sailors who accidently shoots down commercial airliners. Any voluntary changes to their own schedule is a show of weakness and concession which could lead to admitting total liability of these incidents.

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Japanese companies, especially Toyota tend to study problems methodically and do not jump to implement fixes until they feel they truly understand the causes. Unfortunately, when we're talking about an issue like this, those using the product get very nervous about their personal safety while the problem is being analyzed.

My guess is that the media bashing is also heavily political, in nature. American automakers have been beaten down so badly, mostly by Toyota over the last several years that the buy American sentiment is driving many of the attacks. It was evident back then that, in its push to supplant General Motors as the world's largest automaker, Toyota seemed to forget what got them there in the first place. They have a new CEO and he seems to be refocusing the company on its fundamental purpose. I also don't believe that the bad habits the company developed had been around long enough to cause major damage to their culture.

They will survive this slip-up and return to the number one spot over the next few years. Toyota tends to be a very long-term focused company and I'm betting that they won't take short-term action that will result in hurting their future. The company undoubtedly does not want anything like this to happen again, but if it does, they really need to channel their obsession with learning toward improving the way they deal with the American media.

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Relations are already strained, and Toyoda has little choice- the US >government has already told him they will subpeona him if necessary, >that is a pretty strong request in my books.

To subpeona a foreign national in another country through the Hague Service Convention normally takes over 3 months at the minimum. Any other method would be weak on enforcement.

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sfjp330-

"Japanese companies, especially Toyota tend to study problems methodically and do not jump to implement fixes until they feel they truly understand the causes."

Odd- Toyota was pretty quick to blame sticky accelerator pedals on poorly installed floor mats. And then it was driver error for not being able to manuever an "unintentional accelerating" out of control veicle through a busy intersection. Then they quickly decided that a postage size piece of metal could alleviate all their problems- then ? so many other things started going wrong that they simply haven't been able to keep up !

ossanamerica-

"To subpeona a foreign national in another country through the Hague Service Convention normally takes over 3 months at the minimum."

It's not the time frame that's at issue here- It's the process that is enough. The embarrassment of having to be subpeonad by the US government would be disaterous for Toyota- again, if you are not guilty- don't run ! don't hide !

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Mr. Toyota has a clear choice, either he fronts up to these hearings and rules with the punches or the media declares open season on Toyota. Furthermore, as somebody pointed out, even if he goes to the US, the meetings themselves will be brutal as both sides of US politics look to one-up each other vis-a-vis their "concern" for the US consumer.

Finally, the worst thing Toyota could do is to try and bow and scrape its way out of this problem. Such tactics might work in Japan, but they will make things worse in the US.

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Branded at 09:57 AM JST - 16th February

Toyota agreed with NHTSA’s position that the removal of the floor mats was an interim measure and that further vehicle-based action was required. Toyota Engineers were in the process of developing appropriate vehicle-based remedies that will help prevent accelerator pedal entrapment, which was later Toyota announced a recall and install a postage size metal.

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He had better go or they will look even worse than they do now

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thepro -- agree. Respectful of the U.S.-bashers here, CEO's of high-profile companies are expected to testify in Congress if their is an issue regarding their industry, or their company. This is not Japan-bashing. Just last month all the CEO's of the big banks were hauled before Congress to testify. If Toyoda-san does not appear, it will look like Toyota has something to hide. IMO, Toyoda-san owes the American consumer an appearance. Toyota makes billions in profits every year in the U.S., and needs to act accordingly -- which is to have the guts to face the panel and answer the necessary questions about what Toyota knew, and when they knew it. Again, IMO, if he does that, and has the facts to support his statements, Toyota might actually be able to gain from his appearance.

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sfjp330- please, try to keep up with the ever changing info on this story.

"Toyota agreed with NHTSA’s position that the removal of the floor mats was an interim measure and that further vehicle-based action was required."

Of course the NHTSA and Toyota agreed to many things- that was before we learned that Toyota reps were former NHTSA staffers ! Sorry- but all deals are off now !

"Toyota Engineers were in the process of developing appropriate vehicle-based remedies that will help prevent accelerator pedal entrapment"

"Accelerator pedal entrapment" ? LOL- is that what you call a stuck pedal from "worn down" metal ? "Entrapment" ? Now thats funny ! Can't wait to hear the Toyota lawyers pull that rabbit out of their hat come hearings time. This is nothing short of an "errosion" problem- documented to occur at around 35,000 miles ! Hence the postage stamp sized piece of "reinforcement" on a poorly designed gas pedal. Entrapment ? Sounds like a bad episode of "Cheaters" !

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BTW- has anybody asked Mr. Toyoda what is so important in his daily schedule that he can't meet with the Americans ? At this stage of the game all the recalls are in and the process of fixing millions of vehicles is at hand- so what exactly is Toyoda doing ?

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If the US Government wants statements, then Akio Toyoda is who they need to talk to. But if it's answers they're looking for, they're gonna need more than Toyoda to show up.

The best Toyoda can do is submit whatever data and correspondence his subordinates provide him with, and give general statements or promises. The US Government knows this, and as Herefornow already mentioned, this is just the first step in the "investigations", so by all means Mr. Toyoda, please go and appease the state.

If the US Government then sees fit, I would think that they would start talking to the actual designers who designed the parts, the engineers who tested the parts, the managers who approved the parts, and the service department who handled all of the complaints... otherwise, we'll never see a conclusion.

This coverage is starting to get redundant.

Oh, and:

NHTSA has said it is looking into complaints from drivers about difficulty with the steering in 2009 and 2010 Corollas, which say they can wander while driving on highways.

Roads are not flat for a reason. I've never driven a car, American, Japanese, or European, that doesn't "wander" to the side of the road while driving on any roads. Chalk another one up to the media frenzy-fed, panic-driven complaints that will continue to rush in for some time. What's important is that Toyota filters out the bad ones and deals with the legitimate ones.

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If the US Government wants statements, then Akio Toyoda is who they need to talk to. But if it's answers they're looking for, they're gonna need more than Toyoda to show up.

The "buck" so to say, should stop with Toyoda. He can bring over support staff, of course, but as CEO he should be able to answer these types of questions. Other CEO'S have been able to do so in the past...

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As posted before, 2010 is going to be a "whopper". This recall may get highly charged politically, but the answer is in the ANALYSIS. The Pres. of Toyota and the executive staff must isolate the problem, then the situation will be self evident. Analysis, analysis, then analysis.

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If it is political: so be it. For many the Toyota issue has been festering for some time.

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Junnama: The "answers" that I referred to basically meant the answers pertaining to detailed technical questions and detailed questions regarding history of correspondence... because I don't see anything being solved or any conclusion being reached with just Toyoda's general statements or explanations (because he is just one person who doesn't know ALL the answers). So I think what you're saying is what I meant to say.

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As long as there is no doubt that, regardless of the cause Toyoda as President or CEO is ultimately responsible, then I agree.

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tahoochi;

"This coverage is starting to get redundant."

On the contrary- deaths associated to unexpected accelerating Toyota vehicles is now up to 34 from 19 ! I expect these numbers to dramatically increase as case after case is re-opened. In my opinion, this coverage is just starting to get interesting.

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Junnama: Unfortunately, I don't think anyone at Toyota would allow Akio Toyoda to resign over the current issues, if that's what you mean by "ultimate responsibility"... blame it on the Japanese culture, blame it on whatever you wish, but that will probably not happen.

Branded at 12:56 PM JST - 16th February

I expect these numbers to dramatically increase as case after case is re-opened. In my opinion, this coverage is just starting to get interesting.

You expect... in your opinion..... well, good luck with that. I think I'll follow the story too, but just to see what the end result is.

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Looks like this guy is simply not up to the job of leading a multinational company. Nepotism only gets you so far.

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The decision to resign or not wasn't what I was thinking. Only that there is no obfuscation of responsibility. The top exec is responsible and can not pass that down to his subordinates and wash his hands, so to say.

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I believe Toyoda should go to the congressional hearings. If he doesn't go Toyota credibility will be shot down to zero. I don't believe Toyoda should resign from being the CEO. If Toyoda was to resign it would be a shame since he was on the job for less than a year. Toyota is a family business.

Here is the news article about the 34 deaths http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-deaths16-2010feb16,0,1968597,full.story.

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Good luck Toyota, and give em hell

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The embarrassment of having to be subpeonad by the US government would be disaterous for Toyota- again, if you are not guilty- don't run ! don't hide !

subpoenaed, disastrous. But never mind that. Tactics involving embarrassment and threats don't work very well and if the aim is to bring this company down the effect will be disastrous for the 20000 or so people who work for Toyota in the USA as well.

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It's good to buy time for preparation as to what are the facts at the congressional hearings. You don't want to go unprepared and look like a bigger fool.

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It's good to buy time for preparation as to what are the facts at the congressional hearings. You don't want to go unprepared and look like a bigger fool.

I second that.

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"You don't want to go unprepared and look like a bigger fool."

Hmm, 8.5 Million recalls world-wide, 34 reported deaths, hundreds of injuries, thousands of complaints, accusations of impropriety within the corporation (having hired former NHTSA staffers), new claims against faulty steering mechanisms, threats of being subpoenaed to the US, domestic and international pressure from governments, citizens, and media... I'm thinking "looking foolish" is the least of his concerns- I'd think "staying out of jail" is a top priority.

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The U.S. should simply ban all imports of Toyota cars. Much like the Japanese and other nations use suspected and usually bogus health care issues to ban US beef and pork products. Only this issue is much more sinister, how many excuses have been offered so far and how many statements that the problems were "fixed" only to have the same, or similar reports a few days later? Can anyone say coverup?

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OR at the least revoke their business license to operate in the USA.

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Let the president continue to focus on "genchi genbutsu". That is Japanese tradition and so very important.

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The U.S. should simply ban all imports of Toyota cars.

They are producing a lot of them inside the US. Subsequnet more than 150.000 US American jobs are dependent on that company. Plus the 5 Million USD a year in government lobbying (in real terms "buying congressmen and other decision makers") would also be lost.

With so many stakeholders it is clear that the system is broken. Subsequnetly it is a no-brainer that we will see a big show with no serious consequences. At the end everyone will hug eachother and cry tears of love.

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Kyoken-

"At the end everyone will hug eachother and cry tears of love."

I don't think so, not this time. This new administration has a hankerin' for a fight. They have to show the american people that they will protect the safety of the consumers. This is not like Sony's fall from grace with all their battery problems- no ! Americans have been injured and killed, naturally there is a different level of concern. I see Toyota on the brink of bankruptcy by the end. They have already been passed by Ford in The US and Gm has remained #1. Chevy has drawn almost even this past month and Toyota stocks are down- they will go waaaay down after the first set of hearings I imagine. Toyota's future is in serious jeapardy- all because the head honcho tried to deflect, deny, and drag his feet ! The 3 deadly "D"s !

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I personally think that refusal to testify in front of Congress by the shacho of this or that company displays crass ignorance of the basics of American democracy ; coming from a foreign mogul, it is even worse and could lead to a political crisis between the two countries.

Now about the technical aspects, this former engineer of a European car group thinks that the statement about an electronic problem ("we will look at it again") paves the way for a later admission that there is actually a problem related to some calculators (engine management calculator) and that the blame put on floor mats, later on pedal hinge system, was an "easy way out" (after all, RHD models certainly have a different pedal assembly from LHD ones and the probability that the same mechanical trouble could happen on cars sold in the US and in the UK is minute...).

As for the Prius, the finger has already been pointed at calculator idiosycnrasies (most likely the ABS function, or the transition between regenerative braking and conventional ABS controlled braking), and for the Corollas that are being criticized I am curious to know whether they have electrically assisted power steering (which goes with management by calculator for integrating parameters such as angle of steer, speed of vehicle and sometimes more).

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The facts are already known - Toyota has a major problem here. Congress is baiting Toyota into fibbing itself into no return. The one problem that Toyota is simply wishing will go away is the service advisory bulletins it has put out to its dealers over the past ten years. To the layman out there - the company would tell the dealers to earn a buck on a fix Toyota was obligated for. That means silently recalling the cars and having the dealers con the owner into paying the cost by claiming an alternative problem. The trouble here however is that evidence suggests quite clearly that Toyota claimed for those repairs from its suppliers. Folks we have a company that professes to be an angel but...

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Hello President of Toyota, (Steering EPS Problem)

Please drive my car (Toyota Corolla 2009). No one has test drive it the only thing the dealer has told me the last 12 months is (It's a common) complaint. I am glad I recorded all my transactions with the dealer. Please don't give up on your faithful drivers.

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This could be dangerous for the Republicans since Toyota built all their factories in the South to buy GOP votes. If Toyota is taken down by Congress, the Republicans will be in an unwinnable situation: side with the Japanese and lose jobs in their district or side with Toyota and look like foreign corporate shills. Its funny all 175,000 UAW active in the BIG THREE elected everyone in congress.

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One important concern is GM's emergence from bankruptcy has been whether and how the Obama administration might use regulation and the tax code to tilt the playing field in GM's favor. Likewise, whether or not LaHood was exploiting an opportunity to reinforce doubts about Toyota and steer car buyers toward GM, there is no avoiding a conflict of interest when the government regulates an industry in which it has major stakes in one of the firms. One cannot objectively referee a race in which it has its own horse.

Often, to minimize conflicts between policy advocacy and personal enrichment, politicians create blind trusts to manage their personal assets. In this case, that option is foreclosed because the government's stake in GM can't be hidden. So conflicts of interest or at least the appearance of conflicts in remarks from policymakers that can affect stock values, channel investment and invite class-action lawsuits will mar the competitive landscape until the government fully divests of GM.

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Clearly foreign markets are not altogether as free as they are in North America. But all that aside, has the government adapted a form of soft protectionism? Is the government trying to placate unions by punishing Toyota? Is Honda next? More importantly, is the government using it's position as a player in the automotive game by way of it's GM ownership, using it's role as referee in it's role as government to protect it's investment of 60 percent in GM and 10 percent of Chrysler?

You simply can't be a player and the referee and expect to remain neutral. And even if you could, you can't expect others to see you as neutral. There's an ever present danger, all too real given human nature, to stack the deck in your own favor. No one could conclusively make the case that this is what's going on but it sure looks wrong.

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Think this is quality Japanese bashing at its BEST! So the President of Toyota comes to Washington and speaks before Congress. The Congress gills him showing them their anti Japanese positions. What can they do? These problems happen every so often. People are not perfect and it reflects in our machines. The USG is just trying to punish Japan for trying to change the Okinawa plan and to promote the sales of gomi American cars and trucks. The one I saw was rusting on the showroom floor, had badly fitted parts, they layout of the electronics and controls was thoughtless, etc. This is a case of Japan bashing and Obama paying back the Unions for political support.

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Clearly foreign markets are not altogether as free as they are in North America.

Boy this is the understatement of a lifetime. The Japanese market is just slightly less free than the US market. Just slightly, huh?

How can Japan, the country of government and business collusion combined with intense foreign product bashing, make any credible noise here??

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The USG is just trying to punish Japan for trying to change the Okinawa plan

What you didn't think there would be consequences for Japan's actions?

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Japan needs to stop buying American debt. Let the dollar sink, it will make new American jobs in the end. The new America will become just like the old Soviet Union. It has already started Americans refusing to remove their troops from other countries and now the elimination of competition This is all just a ploy from the USG to own all of the companies in America. The "land of the free", not anymore if it ever was such.

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Japan needs to stop buying American debt. Let the dollar sink.

Not thought through very thoroughly. Japan holds what 1 trillion is US debt, paying 4%? How much would trying to clear that position cost Japan? 40 billion in annual revenue, probably 200-300 billion in losses when the dollar denominatd bonds fall in value, while trying to clear the position. Last but not least, of course the US is Japan's primary market, so Japanese exports would crash and Japanese businesses with them....

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Japan needs to sell them to the Chinese. This can be done outside of the American market and in something other than dollars. Perhaps Japan can use a certain amount to buy the Northern territories from Russia giving them American money or Senkaku islands from China. There is no need to bring the dollar down. Remember, there is nothing America can do it the President of Toyota does not wish to visit America. Can they send their troops or police in to arrest him, NO! America hurting Toyota USA will be putting Americans out of employment hurting American suppliers. They need to bring the President of Toyota America to talk to Congress.

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There is no need to bring the dollar down.

Wishful thinking - the markets wouldn't react that way. Oh and do you believe the Russians or Chinese have 1 trillion just sitting around? or that either Japan or China haven't before thought about getting out of this bond trap...

Japan and China are both caught in this trap. You can't sell without tanking the dollar and damaging your own economy as bad or worse than the US economy...so let's see what Mr. Toyoda has to say in front of congress...unless he wants to ignore his second biggest market and take the repurcussions...

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Face what? Toyota USA is an American company owned by Japanese people. Japan can trade US Bonds for things like disputed areas or products from other countries. Perhaps they can sell them to Iran in exchange for oil or sell them or the Saudis in exchange for oil. Start getting out of the American bond trap. Most of all stop buying American bonds. This would force the interest rate up and increase the value of the dollar but really what can the USGov do legally to Toyota if the president of Toyota USA shows up instead of Toyota worldwide? It was Toyota USA that sold the defective cars.

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Start getting out of the American bond trap.

That's a great idea, why didn't somebody think of this before??? All those smart people in the government and nobody ever thought about this..amazing...

Well, if you think congress can really do nothing to Toyota, just look at what the government has done to Toyota already. You don't think they can do more???

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I tend to agree that Toyoda may be making the right decision not to go to U. S. right away, and should not feel obligated to go to U. S. so readily to testify to Congress or meet other government officials. He won't look any good with 'brown lipstick' and as I think the last commenter referred to, he is not likely to sway positively in Toyota's direction the political forces at work.

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YuriOtani: I heard the north Koreans believe Kim Jong Il regularly shoots 12 on the front nine - but of coure they've never seen him play and have no idea what golf is. Getting the point? Japan must stop buying US debt? Now doesn't that ring a bell? You've got to understand that when April rolls around you're going to have to think seriously about what the Toyota people will be saying - blaming the guys who have left the company. This is always the outcome when a Japanese company is under the microscpoe - FUSO: for twenty years they bought the police reports that would prove the victim of a broken hub was the cause, they lied about testing the parts - they had no testing facilities(!); Toyota executives where arrested in 2005 for the crime of hiding the defects in the Hi-Lux steering; Koito was in the papers only last week for systematic cheating on airline seat data... look in the mirror before you play partiotic cheer leader.

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Toyota President Toyoda have accepted Mr. Towns invitation to the congressional hearings.

Here is the link to the article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/business/19toyota.html?ref=business.

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"Toyota President Toyoda have accepted Mr. Towns invitation to the congressional hearings."

And- you are surprised ? Let me remind you of what I said 5 days ago-

8:05 AM JST - 13th February

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict Akio toyoda will indeed "appear" before the Feb 24th congressional committee hearing- sheer speculation mind you, but I have a gut feeling he realizes he can't run anymore."

Sheer speculation my rump ! This guy (Toyoda) has been playing the media like a fine fiddle- he knew from day one he had to appear. Anything less would deepen his ever receding position. Now if you don't mind, I need to get back to the Olympics- the US is schoolin' the world again- what fun !

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@Branded, I am not surprised. Enjoy the Olympics. I don't care for the Olympics asmuch as I used to when I was young. The Olympics is just another Super Bowl.

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skipbeat- I think you'll enjoy the Olymoics once you get out of Japan and all the frustration- with poor media coverage and the pressure on J athletes. I've thoroughly enjoyed the overage and events here in the US- where the Olympics is an event- not a test of genetic superiority ! As for Toyoda- let those "games" begin ! Lets hope he is better prepared than Japan's Olympic team for his big test. He surely can't afford a "face plant" ala kokubo in his big run !

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Yuri,

Mr. Toyoda will get a fair shake in Congress. In the words of your wonderful PM, "Trust Me"...wink, wink

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