Morizo muses on the importance of February 24 and what led him to make it a special day, "Toyota Restart Day," across the company.
Hello, this is Morizo.
We’ve reached this time of year again, February 24.
Nine years ago on this day, I testified at a congressional hearing in the U.S. to address the massive recall issue that originated there.
When I left Japan for that hearing, I remember feeling isolated and alone.
I felt strongly that it was my duty to protect all those involved or associated with Toyota.
With that goal in mind, I traveled to the U.S., only to be met by a spectacular sight outside the building.
There many people were wearing t-shirts with ”We love Toyota” written on them.
Apparently employees and stakeholders from all over the U.S. had rushed to be there that day.
It was at this time that I realized that I had been worried about the criticism I might face as I was speaking, but, seeing this, I knew in my heart there were actually many people who supported me and Toyota. While I had been trying to protect everyone, it turned out that everyone was protecting me instead.
After the congressional hearing, as I met the people that had come to offer their support, I explained my honest feelings in the following way:
"Today, I was not alone. I attended the congressional hearing with everyone who gathered here. You have given me great strength and have supported me emotionally during one of my most challenging moments.”
I don’t have the words to adequately express my gratitude for your support.
Please let it suffice for me express my heartfelt thanks to you all.”
At that time, I also recall saying:
“Today, I believe that Toyota is at a major turning point. In order to regain the trust of our customers, we must thoroughly focus on the values of “customer first” and “genchi genbutsu (going to the source)” that has been part of Toyota’s values since our establishment, and, based on those principles, we need to reconsider all our activities.”
"Based on the amount of feedback we received at this hearing, I believe that if we work together with Toyota's friends around the world, we can create ever-better cars and we will regain the trust of our customers. I'm really thankful to all of you.
Your continued support is highly appreciated.”
A couple of things that became clear to me as I went through this experience.
First is the determination that helped me see how I alone am responsible for Toyota around the world. It is my duty to carry not only the present, but also the past and the future of Toyota.
The other thing that became clear to me was just how much I love cars and how much I love Toyota, our partners, and our friends.
It was after I returned to Japan that I made the decision to set February 24 as a special day, a day we call “Toyota Restart Day.”
Every time this day comes, I am reminded of the feelings I had at the congressional hearing and the other events that happened around that time.