Toyota has committed to maintaining its current Japanese production levels despite a number of economic and environmental factors making the industry increasingly less viable.
The news reminds us it is not just Australia that is battling to keep its automotive industry afloat.
Toyota Motor Co. president and grandson of the company’s founder, Akio Toyoda, said he was determined to strengthen his local manufacturing plants.
“Toyota is a company that was born and raised in Japan, and we can’t abandon it just because the environment is difficult,” Mr Toyoda said, as reported by the Financial Times.
“We are going to grit our teeth and protect Japanese manufacturing.”
Despite his determination, Mr Toyoda admitted Japan’s high labour and tax rates, free trade obstacles, the strong yen, and power supply issues linked to the March earthquake and tsunami, made the decision to commit to Japan increasingly difficult.
“I myself have been saying that, if you look at it logically, it doesn’t make sense to manufacture in Japan.”
Toyota’s Japanese operations lost 362 billion yen ($4.26 billion) in 2010.
Around 40 per cent of Toyota Motor Co.’s vehicles are produced in Japan, significantly more than fellow Japanese brands Honda and Nissan, whose domestic production has dipped to about 25 per cent in recent years.
Toyota plans to produce three million vehicles in Japan this year, down around one million units from the middle of the past decade.
The situation has many parallels to the Australian industry, with pride and patriotism seemingly playing an equally powerful role in Japan.