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Reticent Toyota president typical for Japan Inc

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can I be fly on the wall that day?

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He was not picked on leadership ability so don't expect him to show it.He is a very very spoilt Keio buy who prefers racing cars to working.He won the Japanese ovarian lottery.Toyota's silly mistake was choosing him in the first place.

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wring out a few tears and bow at 90 degress, see how far that will get you.

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Who wrote this ? Excellent piece of journalism, I must say I am impressed with the depth and avoidance of the stereotypes that often accompany any discussion on Japanese business culture. Well done JT a diamond in the rough !

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Admission to Keio University may require intensive study for some, but for the rich it's just a matter of buying your way in.

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I watched the opening hearings and it was pretty much as I expected with a few congressman speaking calmly and asking thoughtful questions and more than a few thinking they were proscecuters on a tv show and making fools of themselves. Tomorrow will REALLY be interesting with Akio Toyoda testifying. Unfortunately if it is televised in Japan it will be in the middle of the night there.

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Interesting article, and it begs the question -- Can anyone think of a Japanese executive who has become CEO of a non-Japan-based multinational? There are many examples of other countries producing top executives -- Pepsi's is from India I believe, as is Citi Bank's; Sony is headed by Stringer from Wales; etc. Does Japan's style of management work only here, and, if so, what does that mean for Japanese companies in an increasingly global world?

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paulinusa-

I only saw the highlights on the web. The women recanting her story about an unintentional acceleration up to 100 mph (160kmh) over 6 miles was extremely damaging to Toyota as it actually put a face on the problem. I didn't care for her "shaming" of Toyota and the NHTSA but I thought her harrowing tale was effective. I'd like to hear from the familys of some of the deceist now also- go for the throught tomorrow when Toyoda is in the room. Then ask him about the "100 million recall win" presentation !

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English courses tend to be pedantic, focusing on grammatical rules

If this remark is aimed at Keio University it is total BS and the writer clearly has no idea about the courses there.

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Admission to Keio University may require intensive study for some, but for the rich it's just a matter of buying your way in.

Wrong here too. The requirements focus on intelligence, originality, expression, quick thinking and an evident will to do research. Buying you way in is a fable.

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can I be fly on the wall that day?

I am sure it will be well televised

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Some Japanese crisis-management experts were critical Toyoda neglected protocol by dispensing with the humble bow. What awaits in Congress could be far more testing.

Maybe Obama can save the day and refresh Toyada's bowing finesse?

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English courses tend to be pedantic, focusing on grammatical rules If this remark is aimed at Keio University it is total BS and the writer clearly has no idea about the courses there.

Exactly! The writer should have said all Japanese University's are like this not just Keio. :p

I thought the piece, as commented earlier, was excellent and reiterated what I said earlier. Given Toyota's leadership it is not the top guy who makes the decisions or even knows all the going on's in his/her company but the bureaucrats and middle managers just below who call the shots and often filter the info before it reaches the prez. It will be interesting to watch tomorrow.

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basically saying "no one is in charge"

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presto345 : "Buying you way in is a fable."

Geez,not when I went there,it was the on-going joke who actually got in on grades and who had a well connected Daddy.I'm pretty sure nothing has changed.

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The women recanting her story about an unintentional acceleration up to 100 mph (160kmh) over 6 miles was extremely damaging to Toyota as it actually put a face on the problem.

From CNN: "After six miles, God intervened," she said, and she was able to bring the car to a stop.

Maybe God is to blame for the sudden acceleration too? Bottom line is we are clearly dealing with emotion here, not facts and logic.

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Here are some facts:

Toyota isn't denying there is a sudden acceleration problem. Toyota doesn't know if the recall will fix the problem.
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presto345 : "Buying you way in is a fable."

Geez,not when I went there,it was the on-going joke who actually got in on grades and who had a well connected Daddy.I'm pretty sure nothing has changed.

And when was that?

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Exactly! The writer should have said all Japanese University's are like this not just Keio. :p

All Japanese Universities. OK. I love to hear these comments from people with universal (!) knowledge. They must have been on all these different campuses, attended, or have had first hand reports from off spring, relatives, reliable sources. Not repeating what some uninformed jerks wrote in columns or on the net. Irregularities occur everywhere, but don't decide it is common practice. Don't echo what some idiot has stated or what someone has said to make a story interesting.

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An excellent article. The lady whose drove for 6miles at 100km/h...there's already reports emerging that this story is total crock. No police reports. If she drove at that speed through a town...pretty much impossible without hitting something but wait - God saved her. Hello? It's pretty damaging for the U.S. side that they let this woman loose.

Next point - yes, Toyota's crisis management has been appalling but let's not forget how political this inquisition is becoming. Inept management and a GOP-authored global recession drove GM and Chrysler off the cliff last year. Toyota's stunning management has made it the big boy in town, and naturally the clear and present target for the loser Detroit auto execs who are only now coming to grips with the fact that passing of low grade, big engined junk as cars isn't good strategy. Still think it's a B2B issue? The U.S. govt. owns 80% of GM. This circus show is effectively the U.S. govt. vs. a private foreign company.

One that makes far better vehicles than Detroit ever has. And will continue to be light years ahead when the smoke clears from this pathetic little American oneupmanship.

Freud would have called it Auto Envy.

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Another interesting statistic to digest... I believe Toyota vehicles are sold in 63 countries. How many of those countries are calling Toyota execs to give accounts in their parliaments? 0 Zero.

How do you spell 'political grandstanding'? :-)

Bonus Trivia Question: How many brake problems were reported on Ford vehicles that are - very interestingly - not subject to a Congressional investigation? Hmmmm.... the plot gets dirtier...

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I believe Sushi may be onto something here...

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I believe Sushi may be onto something here...

He's on to a good narrative of disparate details, that unfortunately don't mesh with the facts of the case....Toyota doesn't deny the problem exists or the depth of it...pointing at other car companies doesn't change the fact that Toyota screwed up....

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Junnama - I don't deny Toyota has screwed up - of course they have.

What I don't agree with is the fact that the U.S. cCongress have called in a president of a foreign company to testify, an action they have no jurisdiction whatsoever to do.

As I hinted in my 9.17pm post, the timing of recent events - primarily the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler and the very sorry state of the US auto industry in general - casts a lot of suspicion on the motives behind this inquest.

Something else - U.S. officials had better watch they don't push too hard tomorrow. Thanks to globalization of trade, Toyota employs thousands of Americans in its factories in the US. Should Toyota management decide to up it and shut down a couple of them, who is going to lose their jobs?

Ooops!

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Yep, Toyota screwed up and all the other auto manufacturers are busy making sure their a$$ isn't the next going into the wringer. The latest report is that the study that highlights the Toyota problems was commissioned by the law firms suing Toyota. But yeah, Toyota screwed up by letting the situation get to that point. Can you say "Pinto?" So much for lessons learned.

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I've spent a fair bit of bandwith on how things would be in Toyota were a foreign company in Japan, so I won't say any further on that.

A few quick points:

They requsted him to come. He didn't have to come. Whether the government owns GM/Chrysler or not they have a duty to regulate the market. If there wasn't something seriously wrong there they wouldn't be able to do anything. Auto companies are always political. Just ask the Germans who were adamantly opposed to the US bailout until GM indicated they might close Opel. They couldn't have done an about-face faster. If Toyota decides to shut plants, I am sure there will be another company to open their plants and pick up the slack.

Oh and Ford is pretty much even with Toyota and quality. Chrysler is a lousy company and has been for 40 years. GM could go either way, but now they are out from under their UAW contracts with the bankruptcy they will likely be quite profitable in the future.

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sushisake - it's pretty much on record that the womans account is true - you can easily find the info.

And re your conspiracy(to be) leanings - open congress hearings occur often in the states irregardless of the people, company and issues. They are part of that system and would be derelict in duty not to investigate more deeply. Like it or not that's the way.

And as Toyoda is head of a company building cars in american factories employing american labor following american laws and selling the products to american citizens, he should naturally offer to explain details on points that are attracting suspicion. Fact: the american market is the bright light of toyota - there is no doubt.

Ignoring it would be perilous.

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I have enjoyably been driving many types of Toyota but that was before I came down with a bad case of BO - (Before Obama)........

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browny1 - you can bet your last buck no U.S. company head would testify before the Japanese Diet.

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Of course not. Japan is a protected market so no US company exports enough to Japan to care.

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You're right.

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Not American, Not Japanese but even I can see the typical U.S. Congress grandstanding and wasting U.S. tax payers money!

The U.S. like most countries have a consumer protection and safety department and this is THEIR job to look in to these things! Not elected officials, Toyota is not asking for a government handout so these elected officials should be working on more important work like getting the economy going and perhaps fixing the health care situation!!!

Junnama: I do agree that Japan is pretty much a closed market, but if U.S. car maker had tried making car fit for Japan maybe they could have made some headway here, but they insisted on trying to sell right hand drive car in a left hand drive country! Which is strange because GM sells left hand drive cars in OZ, NZ, and UK!

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Today's pre-testimony points out and I quote '..we now have 39 deaths attributed to sudden acceleration in Toyotas," Towns said. "To give that horrifying number perspective, there were 27 deaths attributed to the famous (Ford) Pinto exploding gas tank of the 1970s.'

Slap on the wrists compared to Ford.

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bdiego- interesting post. "Today's pre-testimony points out and I quote '..we now have 39 deaths attributed to sudden acceleration in Toyotas,"

As I predicted- the numbers of killed and injured will climb day by day. And yes- Toyota so far has gotten off easy. As we all know the Pinto was run off the face of the planet- Are the Camry, Corolla, and Lexus next ?

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sushisake No US company would testify because there is no comparative system operating in Japan.

However to muse speculatively - if for example GE General Electric's biggest market in the world worth billions was in Japan and they had many manufacturing plants, dealerships, subsidiaries etc employing 200,000 Japanese citizens and their products malfunctioned and killed scores of people, would the head of GE come here to explain and apologize.

We don't know, but not to do would be as I posted earlier - at their own peril.

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A very good article, with opinions from someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

Japan has a first rate economy, but third rate leaders.

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Whether the government owns GM/Chrysler or not they have a duty to regulate the market.

Doesn't change the fact that it is a conflict of interest. And really, should we trust these politicians to take care of our safety? These guys are in a constant campaign mode.

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Branded- Who wrote this ? Excellent piece of journalism, I must say I am impressed with the depth and avoidance of the stereotypes that often accompany any discussion on Japanese business culture. Well done JT a diamond in the rough !

That's what I thought first then I stumble upon the same titled article with a different feel. The link is at http://www.startribune.com/business/85018387.html or http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=AP&date=20100223&id=11140238

Once again, I am confused.

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