JAMA Chairman Akio Toyoda Remarks
First, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to all those affected by the 2021 Fukushima Earthquake.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Ten years ago today, half of the Japanese archipelago was severely damaged, plunging us into the depths of despair.
At that time, the Japanese automotive industry was struggling against an extremely severe business environment known as the “Six Hardships”.
Due to a super-strong yen, with the yen-to-dollar exchange rate having settled in the 80-yen range, and power shortages caused by the earthquake, domestic manufacturing was forced into a difficult situation where it would make more sense to produce overseas.
While other industries shifted overseas, the automotive industry had to grit to successfully safeguard employment and the foundation of manufacturing in Japan.
I think that our sense of responsibility as a core industry and love of our home country was what propelled us.
At that time, there was an onslaught of statements about the automotive industry being mature and that a new industry was needed to replace it.
But the people of Tohoku were the exception.
Putting their hopes in the automotive industry, they put us right in the middle of recovery efforts.
We wanted, as well, for us to be a force for reconstruction no matter what. In 2013, under the banner of JAMA, engineers from various companies joined hands to reproduce the Miracle Pine Tree of Rikuzentakata City (in Iwate Prefecture) using sheet metal.
That was because we wanted to express hope for the future based on the power of manufacturing and deliver such to the people of Tohoku.
Creating the future together with the people of Tohoku through the automotive industry…
With this sentiment, that is what we have been doing for 10 years.
Nissan has continued to produce engines in Fukushima.
Toyota has positioned Tohoku as its third production base in Japan after Chubu (Central Japan) and Kyushu, building a foundation for automobile production, including an academy for cultivating talents in manufacturing.
And most importantly, numerous local companies have taken on the challenge of manufacturing automobile components.
As a result, automotive industry employment in Tohoku has increased by roughly 8,000 jobs, and the shipment value of automobiles and parts has increased by 800 billion yen.
Electrified vehicles claim the lion’s share of Tohoku automobile production, accounting for more than 80 percent of total vehicle output.
I believe that the automotive industry has firmly planted roots in the Tohoku region and, while doing so, has advanced environmental responses for the future.