From now, I would like to talk about something that Toyota has insisted on and committed to for many years.
I am referring to defending to the very last our system for domestic production of 3 million vehicles a year.
This is not something that is meant to only have to do with Japan.
Toyota plants in Japan have served as mother plants that support Toyota’s global production. It can be said that Toyota’s domestic production system is the foundation for a global Toyota.
However, this is not something simply left up to fate, nor is it something that can be taken for granted.
Based on our conviction that we need monozukuri (making things, or manufacturing) and a place to hone competitiveness that can drive global production in Japan, we have, indeed, held fast at all costs to protect our domestic production, no matter how severe the economic environment has been, including the ultrahigh yen.
We did this not only to protect Toyota but also to protect the enormous related supply chains and the jobs of the people involved, as well as the fundamental technologies of Japan’s automotive industry and the human resources who have the skills to support such technologies.
Along with COVID-19, people around the world are facing a state of not being able to get what is needed when it is needed.
There was a person who called this situation the “mask phenomenon.” According to such person, most face masks could not be procured in Japan.
“Making better products at a lower cost.” This is the foundation of monozukuri. However, I think that only aiming to make something at a lower cost can give rise to this kind of phenomenon.
There is another basic element to monozukuri. It is: “Making things means making people.”
People are not costs. People are the source of continuous improvement and a driving force for the growth and development of monozukuri.
As COVID-19 infections spread, many monozukuri companies have started to produce medical face shields and protective gowns, as well as masks and other items.
We, too, are making medical face shields in the United States using 3D printers,
and we have extended such efforts to other parts of the world, including in Japan and Europe.
Furthermore, when it comes to items that we cannot produce on our own, such as ventilators, we are providing support by applying TPS to improve productivity.
I believe we can do these things because we have insisted on having a system for domestic production of 3 million vehicles, and because we have preserved monozukuri in Japan.
What we have been defending to the very last has not been “3 million vehicles.”
What we have been continuing to protect have been people who have acquired the techniques and skills that enable them to make what is necessary when the world needs it.
We are proud that we have been continuing to protect in Japan places in which such human resources can work and be cultivated.
Even as we are now facing the COVID-19 crisis, there is not the slightest bit of distortion or wavering in this belief.
That said, however, there is something that I ask everyone to understand. To continue to protect a certain thing and to keep doing what we are doing is by no means easy.
I sense that there seems to be much talk about a v-shaped turnaround. Sacrificing employment… Sacrificing domestic monozukuri…
By deciding to “Stop” various things, an individual company can turn its results around.
Far from being criticized, it bothers me that such action often seems to be praised. “That’s not right.” This is how I feel.
Regardless of how big or how small they might be, there are many companies in Japan that have clenched their jaws and protected their human resources who had techniques and skills, no matter how tough times were, or, more importantly, because times were tough.
I believe that now is exactly the time that we need a society that can support such companies. I humbly request that you support companies that have supported Japan and Japan’s economy through monozukuri.