TOYOTATIMES

Leaders reveal thoughts on Akio’s recent messages

FROM THE EDITOR 2020.04.19

INDEX

While speaking online with Akio following the JAMA press conference on April 10th, it was suggested that Teruyuki Kagawa, Editor-in-Chief at Toyota Times, speak with Akio’s colleagues and partners around the world “to hear their stories firsthand and cheer them up.” Kagawa committed to do just that, especially considering the global nature of COVID-19.

So, interviews were arranged with the leadership of Toyota affiliates in the regions of: Latin America & Caribbean; North America; Europe; East Asia, Oceania & Middle East; Africa; and Asia. By speaking with these regional leaders and colleagues of Akio, Kagawa hoped to have a clearer picture of what the situation is throughout the world.

Previously, on March 25, 2020, President Akio Toyoda issued and shared a video message with all of Toyota’s partners and “friends” around the globe. In the message, Akio expressed his deep gratitude for all of Toyota’s “friends” facing this crisis and shared messages of encouragement, such as how “Toyota is one big family” and that “there is nothing we cannot overcome.” These were strong messages, but was any of it lost in translation? How was this message received by others? Please read on to follow Kagawa’s journey to find out below.

Please read this article for the Akio’s message in its entirety.

[Akio’s video message]

Remember that “this too, shall pass”. And never forget that together, there is nothing we can’t overcome. Thank you and take care.

Kagawa

Hi, I’m Teruyuki Kagawa, Editor-in-Chief of Toyota Times. I was just watching a video message from Akio Toyoda to Toyota’s colleagues around the world in this serious situation.

Toyota has about 370,000 team members worldwide. In his message to these members, Akio stressed that they are a family. To them, he delivered a powerful message that “this [crisis] shall pass.”

After watching this video, I want to understand how Toyota’s team members around the world are trying to tackle this difficult situation, how they are responding to this crisis. That is the focus of my interviews today.

Before starting, take a look. Again, there is nobody in this room. It’s like I’m some YouTuber. This is how they… anyway!

Let’s start my second round of remote online interviews.

Masahiro Inoue, CEO of Toyota Latin America & Caribbean / Rafael Chang, President of Toyota do Brasil / Daniel Herrero, President of Toyota Argentina / Viviane Mansi, Regional Officer of Communication and Sustainability, Toyota do Brasil

Movie Link 01:33

Kagawa

Thank you for being here.

Inoue

Bom dia, Kagawa-san. Bom dia!

Kagawa

Bom dia?

Inoue

Good morning.

Kagawa

Is that Portuguese?

Inoue

Yes, that was Portuguese. It’s “bom dia.”

Kagawa

Good morning. So online with us here we have Masahiro Inoue, CEO of Toyota Latin America & Caribbean, and Rafael Chang, President of Toyota do Brasil.

Rafael Chang

Hi, konnichiwa.

Kagawa

Hello, nice to meet you. And Daniel Herrero, President of Toyota Argentina. Hello.

Daniel Herrero

I’m Daniel.

Kagawa

And Viviane Mansi from Corporate Communications.

Viviane Mansi

Konnichiwa.

Kagawa

First, I’d like to ask you about what Toyota does in Brazil and Latin America region under normal conditions.

Inoue

There are 40 countries in the Toyota Latin America & Caribbean region, excluding Mexico, from Guatemala below Mexico to Argentina in the south.

Kagawa

40 countries?

Inoue

Yes, there are 40.

Kagawa

That many!?

Inoue

We have plants in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and we produce models like the pickup truck “Hilux” and “Corolla” to sell in the region. That’s what we normally do.

Kagawa

And now, with the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, how are things changing?

Inoue

We’re in a very challenging situation. In Brazil and Argentina, and in almost all of the 40 countries, cities are under lockdown. This is happening almost across the entire region, so, in general, all operations have been suspended.

Kagawa

I see. Given the situation, how is Toyota conducting its sales activities?

Inoue

Chang-san, what is the situation at dealers in Brazil?

Rafael Chang

So all the businesses are closed, only supermarkets and drugstores [are open]. In our case, dealers are closed and mainly attending spare parts and some emergency cases in service shop, and especially making contact to the customers by digital tools. That’s all we can do now from business point of view.

Kagawa

My image about people in Brazil is they are happy and active. Can they really just stay at home? I want to ask Mr. Chang about this.

Rafael Chang

As you said, Latin people, we are like that. We like to hug, we like to kiss. But recently we need to respect the isolation and how to minimize the possibility of getting infected.

The same as in Argentina and other countries, we also like a lot to make lunch on weekends with families.

Daniel Herrero

Basically, it’s mandatory in Argentina to have a barbeque at home every weekend and bring your friends. At this moment, it’s impossible. The quarantine is very serious here from [March] 26. The only thing you can do is via skype to share a toast, virtual toast.

Argentina does not have enough medical equipment, so we need to try to avoid, as much as possible, infected people to avoid the collapse of the medical service system.

Kagawa

So that’s what it’s like there now.

Viviane Mansi

For women in general, I think we have just one more difficulty, that the kids are doing home-schooling. So for a lot of us, we need to take care of work, to take care of house, and to take care of kids. So, it’s not so easy but it’s a good learning too…

Kagawa

Doesn’t he want to go outside and play soccer?

Viviane Mansi

No. He loves video games. Video games [are] free for now. So, he can stay six months in quarantine happy.

Kagawa

Inoue-san, in this situation, what is your thinking about what to do as Toyota? What is necessary to do for Toyota to move forward?

Inoue

The impact is incredibly huge. Because we cannot produce cars, transport and sell goods under the lockdown, and that is necessary to build an economy. Seeing from outside Japan, Tokyo or Japan is a unique case, and we’re all surprised that people are still going to office in this situation. In Sao Paulo, there’s no one outside, even during the daytime.

In Italy and Spain, this situation has continued for three months, so thinking about Latin America including Brazil and Argentina, it’s frightening to imagine everything is shut down for 3 months from March to May. But still, President Toyoda recently made a video message...

Kagawa

Yes, I wanted to ask you about that.

Inoue

Yes. He told us to be “serious but not pessimistic.” If we don’t do things we can do and just worry about things we can’t, you only become pessimistic. So whether it’s business, social contribution, or things at home, we need to do what we can do. I had everyone watch the video, and I have asked Viviane to directly share such messages internally through Rafael and Herrero. I don’t think this will continue for a year, so we’ll do what we can for now. And then when this is over, it’s the time to show the Latin spirit to go offensive quickly and energetically. For now, we cooperate and endure. This is how we are all looking at this situation now.

Kagawa

As everyone in the world is feeling down right now, do you have a message for Toyota colleagues around the world?

Rafael Chang

We are going to overcome this situation. We will become even stronger all together.

Daniel Herrero

We have defied many impossibles and overcame many crises in the past. Probably this could be a little bit more difficult, but I am sure that all together, we are stuck in a huge impossible, but we are sure that together we will overcome.

Viviane Mansi

I could say that some could feel fear, some kind of fear at this moment, but it’s a time for learning. It’s a good time to look back to our values, and we have all the answers there. So, it’s a time to stay together, it’s a time to look [at] all good things we did in the past and we will be able to do better in the future.

Kagawa

Thank you. Viviane, I’m also hoping that you will be able to work in a quiet situation soon.

Viviane Mansi

Thank you.

Kagawa

Mr. Herrero wears that Gazoo Racing team uniform. It looks good on you.

Daniel Herrero

The brand of my heart.

Kagawa

That’s great. Latin people really are great! I want to turn this to a drinking party now.

Daniel Herrero

We will wait for your visit here.

Kagawa

Okay, I will visit!

Inoue

Please do come.

Daniel Herrero

Please come.

Kagawa

Although it’s been a tough situation economically and financially right now, I really appreciate you accepting this opportunity and talking to me with smile on your faces.

Daniel Herrero:

Arigato-gozaimasu.

Kagawa

Thank you. And then, of course we all need to stay healthy. Right? In Japan we have a motto, “Kenko Daiichi” (health first). Before ending, I want everyone to say “Kenko Daiichi” together. After I say, one, two, three, OK?

Kagawa

One, two, thee. Kenko...

Everyone

Kenko Daiichi!

Kagawa

Thank you.

Inoue

Kagawa-san, thank you.

Kagawa

How do you say “thank you” in Portuguese?

Everyone

Obrigado.

Kagawa

Obrigado!

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