"Pursuing Improvements Rooted in the Genba"--President Sato Resolute on Certification Issues


Before facing shareholders' questions, President Koji Sato once again apologized for the recent certification issues, pledging to "tackle them in the genba, one by one."

Toyota Motor Corporation’s General Shareholders’ Meeting was held on June 18 at the company’s headquarters in Toyota City, Aichi. For the first time since 2009, Chairman Akio Toyoda returned to being simply a respondent, leaving President Koji Sato to chair the session.

The 4,656 attendees raised questions covering everything from stakeholder returns to diversity and Toyota’s commitment to carmaking.

Some also touched on the issues related to Toyota’s model certification applications, as announced on June 3.

Prior to fielding questions, President Sato commented again on the matter.

Standing with Chairman Toyoda

President Sato

Before explaining today’s resolutions, I would like to express my sincerest apologies to our customers and shareholders for any concern or inconvenience caused by the recent certification issues.

The certification system in Japan verifies whether a product meets the established standards, mainly in the areas of safety and environment, using measurement methods in accordance with the rules.

Vehicles can only be manufactured and sold after meeting certification test standards, yet in this instance, they were mass-produced and sold without going through the correct certification processes.

Following the cases in other Toyota Group companies, Chairman Toyoda has taken charge as the person responsible for the Group and is leading the way in pursuing improvements rooted in the genba. Together with the Chairman, I will be working on the front lines to ensure such issues do not occur again.

At the announcement on June 3, Chairman Toyoda and Customer First Promotion Group Chief Officer Shinji Miyamoto explained the circumstances behind the certification issues. Chairman Toyoda revealed that he had personally visited the genba for a TPS Jishuken session, where he began by visualizing the flow of material and information in certification work.

In January, Chairman Toyoda also unveiled a Group vision to address the cases at Hino Motors, Daihatsu, and Toyota Industries Corporation. Since then, he has worked to understand the situation and concerns on the ground firsthand, offering advice through candid dialogue with genba leaders at each company and attending Daihatsu’s national dealer meeting to hear from distributors and customers.

At the general meeting, shareholders pointed to the lax investigation, wondering why the issues at Toyota were not found when those at other Group companies came to light, and voiced concerns about the future impact on management strategy.

Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima explained that, in terms of Toyota’s multi-pathway strategy, the range of powertrain options catering to regional energy conditions and customer convenience would not be affected.

Keiko Yanagi, who serves alongside Miyamoto as Deputy Chief Officer of the Customer First Promotion Group, also became a non-executive director at Daihatsu in March. She has constantly been present in the genba, even participating in the TPS Jishuken in a Daihatsu production floor uniform. Yanagi spoke of maintaining close communication throughout the investigation.