Leaders reveal thoughts on Akio's recent messages

2020.04.19

Nobuhiko Murakami, CEO of East Asia, Oceania & Middle East Region and DCEO of Europe Region

Kagawa

Next, we are connected with a leader of one of Toyota’s largest areas. Mr. Murakami is the DCEO of Europe Region and CEO of East Asia, Oceania and Middle East regions. Let’s start the interview now. Mr. Murakami, thank you for your time today.

Murakami

Thank you.

Kagawa

It’s nice to meet you. I am Kagawa, Editor-in-Chief of Toyota Times. Mr. Murakami, where are you right now?

Murakami

I’m at home in Tokyo.

Kagawa

Oh, you are in Tokyo. Mr. Murakami, you’re in charge of Europe, East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East. Specifically, what are the countries you oversee?

Murakami

Actually locally in Europe, the CEO, Johan van Zyl, is in Belgium, and I serve as a sort of catcher on the Japan side. In our Europe Region, there are 53 countries.

Kagawa

53?

Murakami

Yes. Besides Europe, I look after the East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East Region as the head from Japan. In the Middle East, we have partners that have had a long relationship with Toyota in smaller countries like Bahrain and Kuwait. In terms of business volume, countries with larger populations and geography such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman are dominant.

Kagawa

Under this COVID-19 situation, how are the sales and production operations in each country affected?

Murakami

As I said, there are 53 countries in our Europe Region. The situations are different in each country, but overall, 75 percent of dealers are shut down. So we have suspended our plants as well.

Especially in Europe, beginning with Italy and Spain, we have seen a collapse of the medical system. There are a lot of people working hard to support the medical front where they can.

Kagawa

Are you specifically referring to medical equipment?

Murakami

For example, face shields. Members at our plant in France first started making them, and that was shared with our UK plant. That’s how everyone started working on them. Also, you know the door knobs in hospitals?

<Upper left>Toyota Motor Manufacturing France/<Upper right>Toyota Motor Manufacturing Poland/<Under>Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK
Kagawa

Yes, you touch them.

Murakami

You touch them to open the door, so we added a mechanism so you can open the door using your elbow without using your hands.

They’re doing these kinds of things by using their wisdom like karakuri acquired at a manufacturing plant.

Kagawa

This is where Toyota’s skills come into play.

Murakami

Yes, and I am grateful for them.

Kagawa

Now, moving on to the Middle East, what are the situations in the region, and how are you responding?

Murakami

The outbreak started to spread to the Middle East a little after it started in Europe. The region is really at the brink right now. So many countries have taken measures early as part of precautions. But we have seen a growing number of areas where sales activities are being shut down day by day.

Kagawa

I see. How about other regions such as East Asia?

Murakami

Taiwan has been successfully containing the virus, so our sales have actually been operating almost the same as usual.

Kagawa

Even now?

Murakami

Yes.

Kagawa

Really? That is amazing.

Murakami

For March sales, Taiwan is probably the only market in the world that we achieved our sales target.

Kagawa

They were able to?

Murakami

Yes, it is really encouraging, but our team members there say that when everyone else in the world wants to sell cars but cannot, they want to work hard and give colleagues in the world hope with their good sales results.

Let me give you an example. There are many customers who don’t want to visit dealers. So the dealers came up with an idea to use space at a nearby park to display cars outside. Some salespersons drive test vehicles to the customer’s home. For customers who come to dealers, they disinfect vehicles thoroughly, both inside and outside. And they introduce these things on the Internet and other places.

Kagawa

How about Australia in Oceania?

Murakami

Dealers in Australia are all also currently open and in operation.

Kagawa

I see, they are open.

Murakami

The stay-at-home restrictions are a bit stricter than Tokyo. This is largely affecting the consumer confidence.

By introducing the situation in Taiwan, thankfully they still have an environment to continue sales operations in Australia, and I have asked them to try their best. In times like this, it is important to understand customers’ needs at genba and take action right away.

Kagawa

On March 25, President Toyoda sent a message to all Toyota colleagues around the world.

Murakami

I received various reactions to the video, especially for the word he stressed, “family.”
Colleagues in South Korea and countries in the Middle East shared a positive reaction about the part where he indicated that dealers area a family and we will fight and get over this crisis together. I myself was very happy about that part too.

Kagawa

I would like to ask you to send out a strong message to Toyota Group members and stakeholders. A message in response to these challenging times.

Murakami

There was also actually a press conference by President Toyoda yesterday.

Kagawa

Yes, a JAMA (Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association) press conference.

Murakami

What I felt most strongly and what I think the locals were also happy about is this part about the joy of moving. Since everyone stays at home now, we can provide more customers with the joy of driving a car, and going out to do various things. That’s the kind of work or value we want to offer. And that’s what I want to share with everyone at Toyota.

Kagawa

We still may be a bit nervous the next time we go to Europe. But when we see people walking around there, we will really feel that the world is back on track. I hope for that day and will do what I can do. Mr. Murakami, please also hang in there and help recover Toyota’s operations.

Murakami

I will keep those words in mind and do my best to lead the regions.

Kagawa

Thank you.

Kagawa/Murakami

Kenko Daiichi!

Kagawa

Thank you!

Murakami

Thank you!

RECOMMEND