On January 8, 2021, a video message by Akio Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), was posted on websites of various associations that represent companies involved in automotive business, such as parts manufacturers, car dealers, logistics companies, energy companies and insurance companies among others. The message was directed to 5.5 million people working in the automotive industry in Japan.
Prior to the video message, there was also a new year message campaign in Japan, broadcasted in TV commercials and seen in newspaper advertisement from New Year’s Day, which focused on the 5.5 million people working in the industry. Why is there so much communication toward all members, beyond car manufacturers, in the industry?
The automotive industry has been the backbone of the Japanese economy
Last year, on December 17, as he responded to one of the questions from the press, JAMA chairman Akio Toyoda appealed that the automotive industry increased employment even under this COVID-19 crisis and when the total number of employment in Japan decreased.
Each one of those in the industry has put in a lot of effort to preserve employment and to contribute to the recovery of the Japanese economy while taking extra care of preventing infection of COVID-19. It didn’t matter if they were appreciated or not, they continued such efforts regardless.
When those of us in the industry move forward, there is more we can do for Japan and for the world. That has been the core message, which is also at the center of Akio’s message in the video.
Since this is a message by the JAMA chairman, needless to say, the message is, naturally, primarily centered on those working in Japan. However, by replacing the country/region name to yours’, you will find that Akio’s message is still very relevant and compelling to those outside of Japan. This is why Toyota Times would like to share Akio’s new year message in its entirety.
Thoughts behind the New Year message campaign
JAMA Chairman Akio Toyoda's New Year Message
I’m Akio Toyoda, chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).
To the 5.5 million people working in the automotive industry: Happy New Year, and thank you.
As we enter the even more devastating third wave of this COVID-19 pandemic, I’d like to take this moment to thank medical professionals, frontline workers and everyone else fighting to protect our lives as we speak. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Although we’re still fighting against the threat of COVID-19, I feel grateful to be here welcoming the New Year with everyone.
Last year, we experienced a world in which we were unable to move freely.
At the same time, we recognized anew how wonderful it is to be able to move freely.
Furthermore, we realized just how much our ability to move freely is supported by our fellow workers.
Please watch the New Year message campaign video.
[Transcript of the message expressed in the video]
We realized something very clearly through these stagnant days…
That the lives in our country rely on the mobility of people and goods.
Without those who make automobile parts, those who manufacture cars, those who do maintenance of cars, those who help refuel cars at gas stations, and those who actually drive the cars, there would be no cars on the road.
5.5 million people work in Japan’s automotive industry…
Imagine how strong we can be when 5.5 million people join forces.
Let’s move on…
Mobility brings a new wind, change in landscape, and brings us closer to tomorrow.
The new normal is not about stopping and staying put.
It’s about finding new paths with new ideas.
We will move forward.
#The 5.5 million people behind cars
The 5.5 million people behind cars.
2.37 million people working in manufacturing, sales, and maintenance of cars and parts.
2.69 million people working in transportation, including driving taxis, buses and trucks.
350,000 people working in the service sector, such as gas stations, car insurance, and more.
We’re able to move freely thanks to their hard work.
Thinking of them as we welcome the New Year, the first words that came to my mind were, “Thank you,” rather than “Happy New Year”.
I don't think I am alone in this.
When faced with the challenges of COVID-19 last year, many from the Japan Auto Parts Industries Association, Japan Auto-Body Industries Association, Japan Automotive Machinery & Tool Manufacturers Association, and Japan Automobile Dealers Association expressed the same sentiment, “Let’s overcome this together and let the automobile industry be a driving force of the economy.”
Therefore, as we enter a new year, we wanted to show our gratitude to everyone who supports the automotive industry.
The previous video included footage of people working at real frontlines, or genba. We were also able to hear many stories from them at that time.
It felt as though we were the ones who were encouraged by everyone’s words of support.
Besides showing appreciation, I hope this video also sends a cheering message of, “Let’s come together this new year” to all 5.5 million people.
When 5.5 million people gather their strengths
I’d like to take a quick look at the automotive industry’s impact in Japan by numbers.
The automotive industry generates 5.5 million jobs. That means 1 out of 10 Japanese people work in fields related to the automotive industry.
Tax payments related to the automotive industry in Japan total 15 trillion yen.
The economic effect of that is multiplied two and a half fold. When car production is increased by 1, the entire industry gets a boost of 2.5.
In other words, an increase in the automotive industry ripples across many other industries in Japan.
The automotive industry and the Japanese economy are slowly but surely paving the way to recovery despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, because all 5.5 million people are working hard and pressing ahead in their various roles.
Last year, Prime Minister Suga declared the Japanese Government’s goal of a “carbon neutral society by 2050.”
I’d like to honor the prime minister’s admirable determination to tackle global environmental issues, and we wish to do our very best to meet this challenge.
This isn’t as simple as “turning all cars into electrified vehicles.”
We must also consider the electricity used to produce those cars.
It’s crucial to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted when generating electricity.
Therefore, it’s incumbent on all of us and the entire country to come together and realize a path to a carbon-neutral world.
It is our role and responsibility to support actions that care for our home planet, just as we do for our hometown or home country, and pass on our beautiful home to the generations to come.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were working on such innovations as CASE to survive this “once-in- a-century period of profound transformation.”
We’re ready for this transformation.
Now is the time for all 5.5 million of us in the automotive industry to come together as one.
5.5 million people’s each step forward carries us to another day
It has been 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is scheduled to be held this year.
As such, recovery from the earthquake and COVID-19 will be a major theme this year.
This is also a year where we will all expedite actions related to SDGs, which is at the heart of a global society, with the attitude of “no one will be left behind.”
“We will move forward.”
Even if we pause for a moment, it’s vital to get moving again.
Each and every one of us can do something we couldn’t do last year for someone else. Let’s take that one step forward.
If we each take one step, that adds up to 5.5 million steps.
I believe that our steps bring us to another day in Japan and the world.
And we can say “thank you” to each of our colleagues who take those steps.
I’d like to think that we all share the same aspiration to create such an automotive industry and country together.
I’m also determined to take this step myself to realize this profound transformation.
The fight against COVID-19 is becoming tougher every day, which is why we must say, “Let’s be serious, but not overwhelmed,” especially at this time.
We must come together and strive to make 2021 as bright and joyous as we can.
Please take good care of your health and stay safe.
I look forward to working with you all again this year.
Thank you very much.