Takeshi Uchiyamada, creator of the Prius, has stepped down as director. The former chairman, who fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming an auto engineer, conveyed his profound gratitude to Toyota's shareholders.
With the general meeting’s four resolutions finalized, the proceedings were brought to a close. Yet as shareholders began to leave, Chairman Akio Toyoda addressed them once more.
“Although the general shareholders’ meeting has concluded, I hope you will remain seated for a moment longer as I ask Mr. Uchiyamada to say a few words on behalf of our retiring directors.”
Director Takeshi Uchiyamada retired as Chairman in April*. Beginning with his boyhood aspirations of becoming an automotive engineer, he used the opportunity to express gratitude for his 54 years at the company.
*Uchiyamada stepped down as director at a board meeting that followed the general shareholders’ meeting. He retains his role as Executive Fellow.
A Toyota man’s blessed life
Executive Fellow Uchiyamada
To share a little about myself, I have loved cars since I was a boy. In my second year of junior high school, I decided that in the future, I wanted to work for an automobile company and see cars that I designed go out into the world. This ambition stayed with me throughout my school days.
By good fortune, I was able to join Toyota, where I had the chance to work on various projects and bring the first-generation Prius into the world, fulfilling my childhood dream.
If I were to sum up my 54 years at Toyota in one word, it would be “gratitude.”
I am extremely grateful to all the mentors and supervisors who nurtured me, as well as all the colleagues and teammates who worked by my side.
I am also grateful to the company for providing me with such a variety of development opportunities.
The first half of my 25 years on the board was focused on Toyota’s globalization.
The second half was about structural reforms. President Toyoda’s term began with the Global Financial Crisis and the U.S. recall problem. Working alongside him, I observed and supported his efforts to guide Toyota’s recovery from these difficulties.
As a result, Toyota is now able to self-fund not only its crisis response measures, but also all future technological development, R&D investment, and capital investment.
This is a key factor that allows the company to take a longer-term perspective in business decisions, or make swift investments in a rapidly changing environment.
More than anything, I believe all of this is made possible by the support of our global customers, who have warmly encouraged and supported these efforts, and our shareholders, including those of you here today.
This year brings major changes in the company’s structure. I hope you will continue to give the new leadership team the same support and encouragement.
I enjoyed a truly blessed life as a Toyota man. Thank you very much.
A respected figure who offered understanding
Uchiyamada, Mr. Prius, was a great engineer who took on the challenge of shaping the future through cars.
For me personally, he always offered the utmost understanding and unbiased advice. He is someone I respect in life.
He was also the greatest supporter of our efforts to make ever-better cars.
Before I became president, Mr. Uchiyamada also preceded me as executive vice president. During my presidency, he continued to support me as executive vice president in charge of technology and as chairman.
He was like an older brother, kindly supporting his wayward sibling. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude.
Mr. Uchiyamada, thank you very much for helping to run Toyota over your 25 years as a director.
After these words of appreciation, Akio stood up and bowed deeply before Uchiyamada.
Together, they would hold discussions from the earliest stages, before ideas became set. Disagreements were worked out between the two of them to ensure they were on the same page.
Whether as executive vice president or as chairman, Uchiyamada continued to support Akio both openly and in private. The shareholders farewelled him with resounding applause.
Takeshi Uchiyamada Career Profile