JIN-518 -- Toyota Presses Pause

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J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends in Japan.
Issue No. 518 Friday, February 5, 2010, Tokyo

Whether it's sports figures like Asashoryu weeping for the cameras as he announces his retirement from sumo wresting, or vilified actresses like Noriko Sakai humbly pleading for understanding in the wake of drug charges, appearing in public and making dramatic apologies is something woven into the very fabric of Japanese culture.

Just days ago Toyota President Akio Toyoda got his turn at bat as the company struggles to deal with a worldwide recall of millions of its vehicles. At a quickly arranged press conference on February 5th, Toyoda stated, "I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concern that we have given to so many customers," and then, switching to English, he said, "I will do my best."

The recall stems from a problem surrounding what has been termed as a possible sticking accelerator pedal. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), instances of sudden acceleration in Toyota cars have resulted in 19 deaths in the past 10 years. Early Toyota figures estimate the recall will cost the company around $2 billion, but in terms of stock impact (when the recall was first announced, the stock dropped 14 percent, losing the company 1.9 trillion yen, or $21 billion, in market value) and consumer trust, this episode may end up costing Toyota far more.

Toyota has now decided to suspend sales of all the affected vehicles and is now engaged in efforts to regain customer trust by placing advertisements in the media and through the hiring of independent analysts to diagnose the specifics of the problem.

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Start a Company in Japan

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 20th of Feb, 2010

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful.
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan,
will be giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on
starting up a company in Japan.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved,
and to ask specific questions that are not normally answered
in business books.
All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:
http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar

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A new wrinkle in the story surfaced this week when Apple computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, himself a Prius owner, opined that the problem is due to bad software. Following Wozniak's remarks, the carmaker reportedly contacted Woz, as he is affectionately known in tech circles, and now plans to thoroughly examine his car along with his specific software comments.

Aside from the general trouble such instances cause for any automaker, the fact that the Prius is now in the recall spotlight could spell long-term trouble for the world's biggest car company. The Prius is Toyota's star vehicle and has become the ecologically-friendly choice of hybrid auto among the world's top celebrities.

And, even if the company manages to win back the trust of the current generation of eco-minded drivers, Toyota now faces two class action lawsuits and a major Congressional hearing in the U.S. on February 25th. Commenting on the impending event, one of the hearing's organizers said, "Failure to take every step possible to prevent future deaths or injury is simply unacceptable. Our hearing will press for answers about the source of this accelerator defect and investigate whether adequate measures have been taken to ensure the safety of Toyota vehicle owners and all Americans on the road." In a few weeks, when Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's head of North American operations, stands before the committee, we may bear witness to a historic shift in fortunes of one of Japan's most reliable and profitable enterprises.

---------------- ICA Event - February 18 ------------------

Speaker: Terry Warren, President-Advantage24 K.K.
Topic: Cloud Computing: Fact or Fiction?

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-Venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map

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Start a Company in Japan -- Nagoya Seminar

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 27th of Feb, 2010 @Nagoya

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful.
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan,
will be giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on
starting up a company in Japan.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved,
and to ask specific questions that are not normally answered
in business books.
All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:
http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar

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