Akio Toyoda represented four automobile manufacturers associations to share how the auto industry in Japan is committed to responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Things taken to heart in response to COVID-19
This time, facing the threat of COVID-19, we face a situation where we are unable to simply acquire the things we need as we wish. Examples of this include face masks and medical face shields.
In these circumstances, we have once again realized the importance of “being able to produce the things we need for ourselves.”
Why were we able to produce these things for ourselves?
It is because monozukuri is still in Japan. This reaffirms what was felt strongly in our hearts about how we should never lose the worksites of real monozukuri.
New attempt to not lose monozukuri (making things)
Now, a situation where cars cannot be sold around the world continues, and because of that situation, there are some plants where operations have had to be stopped.
If this continues, we may face a situation where some of our “friends” or partners may not be able to continue operation.
However, amidst this situation, looking to the future, the underlying technology cannot be lost, and there are people with expertise that no machines can ever copy.
If these resources are leaked or cut off, the future we envision will grow more distant many years ahead.
Before it is too late, we need work in a timely manner to tie these vision to new capital. To do that, we need the power of “mekiki,” an eye for identifying the crucial elements that the automotive industry should keep and maintain during the most challenging, unstable times.
This skill, I believe, is only possessed by the associations here today, who understand monozukuri. I hope we can consider a fund that combines both our mekiki and the capital you wish to invest in the future of automobiles together.
Matching people with skills
I believe if we have mekiki, we can match people with skills.
If there is someone with a high level of expertise or skills who is unfortunate and about to lose a place to work, that person will first be introduced to a company within the automotive industry requiring those skills.
In addition to protecting monozukuri within the automotive industry, we hope to reduce the amount of unhappiness and instead increase happiness. I hope we can create this kind of system.
Rediscovering the value of moving things and people (transportation)
The other day, looking at the flowers that bloomed outside the house, I thought again about how "Spring really is a long-awaited season."
The cold days pass. In spring it gets warmer, so people start going out.
Then, people feel "Finally! I can go outside again!", and they begin once again to taste the “joy of moving”.
Currently, just like on cold winter days, people still cannot go outside.
In that context, it is likely that many people are now rediscovering the “joy of moving.”
Being able to go outside and go where you want is truly wonderful. This situation has made all of us, including myself, feel and realize that again.
The word “move” means "to move physically," but it also can mean “moving your heart to change” and "being moved (emotionally)."
In my opinion, I am convinced that these two meanings can be said to be in the same word.
At the end of this so-called “winter,” there will be a need to make our cars even better and even more wonderful, so that even more people can enjoy moving more than ever.
This winter is also continuing on the economic environment as well. It could be described as a pretty harsh winter. If you can survive, you will see spring.
If the automobile industry survives, it will have a connected impact for many people.
Before I was born, there are stories from the post-war era about how Toyota had lost people and factories. Regardless, the company somehow survived by choosing to produce whatever needed to be produced.
Among the products we made were things like frying pans and pots, and we cultivated the wasteland around the factories to be able to produce potatoes and barley.
I’ve heard that Subaru also made all types of lifestyle products, including things like agricultural equipment, carriages for babies, sewing machines and even clippers for barbers.
For dealers that didn’t have cars to sell, they also did what they could, selling tableware, etc., and other things that are considered necessary for life, selling them from person to person.
As an industry, I believe we have the tenacious DNA that will help us to survive, so we should do all we can to survive!
Three Things We Can Do Now
When spring finally comes ... that is, when this COVID-19 situation has ended ... when people are saying “Come on! Move forward! Get outside!”, that will be the time that we would like the automotive industry to be the best engine to revive the economy as soon as possible.
If you're huddled up not doing anything because it's winter, your legs will weaken.
At any rate, we should do whatever we need to do, and we’ll do it now.
What we can do now are the following three things:
1) Thank healthcare workers and their families and provide any support we can
2) Keep doing business, whatever we can, to keep the economy running
3) Make preparations to lead by becoming the number one driver of the economy for when spring finally comes.
We will do our best to achieve these three. Thank you everyone, and thank you for today.