Thoughts on Toyota Times


Newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Teruyuki Kagawa shoots a commercial promoting the initial launch of Toyota Times, a new online publication from Toyota designed to share Toyota related news, management direction, and other special content. The site was originally launched in Japan in January 2019. In the commercial he briefly explains how Toyota Times, though carrying the name “Toyota” in the title, takes a stance that distances itself from the company, allowing the editorial team to seek the truth, even being able to call into question certain activities and “demand explanations” to clarify top management’s views and intentions.

In this video, following the commercial, Kagawa sits down to share his thoughts about starting Toyota Times and his new role. As you watch, you’ll be able to learn what he was thinking when the offer was made, his expectations for Toyota Times, and his initial impressions of President Akio Toyoda.

Questions Posed to Editor-in-Chief Kagawa

Q What do you expect from Toyota Times?

The company has announced that it will shift from an automobile company to a global mobility company. On top of that, Toyota, as an automobile manufacturer currently is using limited resources in manufacturing its products.

Under those circumstances, it will be interesting to see how Toyota will transform itself to become something different.
This is a very interesting topic, and I am eager to learn all I can, not just as editor-in-chief, but also personally – this is the type of story I am very interested in.

It seems like Toyota grasps that the automobile industry that we know now will not last forever, so they plan to step-up to become something greater – a mobility company.

As a driver and car owner for more than thirty years, I personally am excited for this possibility, especially when thinking about how it will change, how it will expand. It is motivating enough that even I might want share my own ideas about it.

Q Why do you think you were offered the position of editor-in-chief?

Good question. Maybe it was because I had a role in the television series “Leaders”, a drama that features the history of Toyota. It almost felt closer to a documentary than a drama.

My character in that show was a banker that helped to fund the historic Kiichiro Toyoda, helping in his own way to build an automobile company that represents Japan.

While filming the show, I learned a lot about how Toyota helped to save the economy of Japan at that time, and about how Toyota became such an important company that has, in many ways, come to represent Japan.

Because of this experience, when I was asked to take on this role, I felt that there was a connection. As I learned more of their plans, I could see how this matched my own character. To be honest, I was delighted.

Q What does your car mean to you?

I think you could describe it as my room.
How should I put it?
While it might sound strange, as a stage actor, I am always concerned whether or not people can hear me properly.
For example, in a room like we are in now, you can hear the echo very clearly because of the way it is built – this means my voice should be able to be heard clearly too.
However, when inside a car, you can’t really hear any echo.
I found I could use my car as a place to experiment and test whether I am speaking loud and clear enough.

Q What is your image of President Toyoda?

Being the son of such a well-known family, I assume that he must be living a life for which there are high expectations. The Toyoda sons were like princes from fairy tales, looking smart and sharp. Even in the television drama, they were portrayed like that.

But as I have learned more about him from reading about him, seeing him drive under his character, Morizo, and other situations, it is clear that he doesn’t want to be thought of in that way. I’m sure he has struggled to shake off that image.

While I have yet to meet him in person, I can say that I am excited to see both of these sides of him.

Q What sort of direction do you want to take as editor?

This may sound connected to my previous answer,

But personally, I think that any responsible reporter’s job is to seek the truth, to ask questions.
Reporters and editors are sort of required to have a feeling of doubt on any subject, and must confront their feelings by asking the right kinds of questions.

For my role at Toyota Times, I am not sure it is my role to just offer a voice a criticism and doubt, but to take a more active role, even offering advice to the people we speak with. If we can work more as one, I think we’ll see more interesting things in the future.

Of course, it is important still for a reporter to be able to criticize certain things, and we must still have an obsession for the truth. That said, imagine if we worked together as one? If we can do that, we might be able to do something that’s never been done before. You never know – it could be that the opinion of a reporter might spark new ideas too, right?

Maybe this is the way of reporting for the 21st century. I hope that this is something we can achieve.