Honorary Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda, who passed away this year at the age of 97, was inducted into the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Tokyo on November 14.
The Japan Automotive Hall of Fame works to honour and preserve the achievements of those who helped develop the country’s automotive industry, scholarship, and culture and contributed to creating a thriving automobile society.
This year, the Honorary Chairman was one of four inductees. The Hall of Fame also added four Historic Cars and presented four annual awards (Car of the Year, Import Car of the Year, Design of the Year, and Technology of the Year).
Shoichiro Toyoda was lauded for “overcoming numerous managerial challenges to build Toyota Motor Corporation into a global company and helping turn Japan into the world’s foremost automotive superpower. He was also devoted to nurturing talent, believing that monozukuri is about developing people.”
At the ceremony, Chairman Akio Toyoda delivered an acceptance speech, painting a portrait of the Honorary Chairman as an engineer, a Toyota leader, and someone who embodied the company founder’s “dream, vision, and spirit” in seeking to “make Japan a prosperous nation.”
I am greatly honored that Shoichiro Toyoda has been selected as an inductee into the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude for all the kindness he received during his lifetime. Thank you very much.
The day my father passed away, February 14, also happened to be the birthday of his revered grandfather, Sakichi.
From an early age, my father learned about the monozukuri spirit from Sakichi and his father, Kiichiro. He practiced the ethos of actions over words and always following through. Then, at the age of 27, following Kiichiro’s death, he joined Toyota as a director.
Beginning in the turbulent postwar period, he shouldered the heavy responsibility of being a Toyota leader for more than half a century. I believe he embodied Sakichi’s words—”Open the door, it’s a big world outside”—by paving the way for Toyota to move beyond Japan and become a global company.
Yet he was more than a businessperson. As chairman of Keidanren, Expo 2005 Aichi, and the Institute of Invention and Innovation, he maintained strong convictions and a broad perspective, working to create a society where children could have hopes and dreams and all the world’s people live in peace and prosperity.
Above all, he was a man who continued to pursue Kiichiro’s dream, vision, and spirit in seeking to make Japan a prosperous nation.
This was rooted in ideas that Toyota has cherished since its founding: genchi-genbutsu, building quality into the process, ceaseless innovation, and the belief that monozukuri is about developing people.
I will never forget these words from my father: “Creating something new means racking your brains, toiling, and losing yourself in the process. These moments are the ultimate pleasure. There is no greater joy or excitement than seeing someone enjoying or benefiting from a product that you worked hard to make. That’s what drives me to keep learning and striving to create something even better.”
As these words suggest, my father was also an engineer with a lifelong love and dedication to monozukuri.
He had great respect for Kenya Nakamura, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, describing him as “an engineer who lived by Toyoda’s principle that one should ‘always be studious and creative, striving to stay ahead of the times.’”
My father worked tirelessly with Mr. Nakamura to create his beloved Century. Well past the age of 90, he continued to share his observations from the rear seat with Toyota’s engineers.
I believe my father wanted to impart to future generations an unwavering focus on the customer and the engineer’s spirit that sees carmaking as a boundless endeavour.
Knowing my father, I am sure nothing would make him happier than to follow the respected Mr. Nakamura as an inductee into the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame. Thank you sincerely for this honour.