On April 10, at an urgently called press conference, Akio Toyoda, as Chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, delivered a message to the media that represented the thoughts of four industry associations* involved in automobile manufacturing in Japan.*Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Japan Auto Parts Industries Association, Japan Auto-Body Industries Association, and Japan Automotive Machinery and Tool Manufacturers Association
The overarching theme of the message was “how to face the COVID-19 pandemic as automotive industry.” As he started the press conference, Akio Toyoda said:
As the crisis in Japan and around the world deepens, the message details the commitment these groups of manufacturers share and how they just might find a way to recover more quickly together. Read more from the speech representing the automotive industry in Japan here.
Remarks by Akio Toyoda (Chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association)
Thank you all for coming on such short notice.
Today, the three associations related to automobile manufacturing who are joining us in addition to our own JAMA members.
Gratitude to healthcare workers and others fighting for us
At the recent JAMA press conference, I mentioned that in this world there are things that we can control and things that we cannot control.
If we focus too much on the things that cannot be controlled, our feelings will become negative.
We must focus our action on the areas that we can take control.
We must be mindful and thank people who are able to do something in the areas of our lives that we cannot control.
First, I would like to thank all those working in the areas of healthcare and in logistics and transportation who have been working diligently to support our lives, and their families who support them from the bottom of my heart.
This expression of gratitude is not limited only to those working in Japan.
Our business extends to people in various countries and regions, and we know that there are people in each country and region working just as diligently on the frontlines every single day.
While I am not sure how far this message given from Japan will reach, on behalf of the automobile industry in Japan, I send our deepest gratitude to all who are involved in this industry around the world, and wish to ask for your continued support. I think we are all encouraged in the industry to keep doing our very best, and we will!
How we can help support the healthcare system
Now, please allow me to return and speak more about Japan. Japan is now facing a deepening crisis.
If the number of infected people continues to increase, it may cause the healthcare systems here to collapse, and Japan may not be able to recover.
First, we hope to provide support in areas that we can control, and begin from there.
Typically, events like press conferences were places to announce things that have already been decided.
However, today we plan to talk about topics we should be thinking about moving forward, and includes our “thoughts” and “declarations.”
While nothing has been officially decided, by discussing our thoughts, there may be people who will raise their hands and are willing to do the things we suggest together with us.
Then, we can work more speedily and perhaps start a bigger movement.
Because we are in a time of crisis, this carries added importance.
If you can listen to and understand this point, it would be appreciated.
Self-sufficient production of face masks for internal use
Returning to the topic of how we can help support the healthcare system to keep it from collapsing in any small way we can,the first action item we have come up with is to produce face masks for our own employees within the automobile industry.
However, we have not secured the quality or quantity of face masks for distribution to everyone yet.
The first prototype face mask we made using auto parts was too stiff.
Of course, we are continuing to make improvements, but for the first products, we plan to use them amongst ourselves.
Though small in overall impact, we believe even this action can help ease the pressure on the supply chain for face masks as it reduces the amount some companies need to procure from outside manufacturers.
Self-sufficiency in remote facilities
Among our companies, we also have vacant dormitories and recreational facilities.
For example, just within the Toyota Group companies, we believe we can prepare around 1,500 rooms if needed. We anticipate that as JAMA we may be able to prepare around 3,000 rooms in total.
Currently, these facilities are used mainly for employees returning from their posts overseas, but, depending on the situation, we would consider using these facilities for mildly infected patients.
Support improvement activities for ventilator equipment production
We are also aware that there are some expectations regarding the production of ventilators.
However, this is medical equipment that is directly connected with human life.
Automobiles are also products that are related to human life, and so, as manufacturers or those engaged in monozukuri relating to life or death, we understand how difficult it is to make such things. This is no simple task.
To support these manufacturers, we will first go where the medical equipment is being made, and we will do what we can to support increased production, even if the result is only one more mask being made, as we determine improvements in the production process and start providing support by utilizing our know-how.