I want to begin by reiterating our heartfelt sympathy for everyone who suffered in the Great East Japan Earthquake. This month, our Japanese production has basically returned to our pre-quake volume.
In addition to being thankful for the tremendous efforts by people in the workplace, I would also like to express my sincerest appreciation for the diverse cooperation and support from our suppliers, dealers, other related companies, and, most of all, from people in the Tohoku region (in northeastern Japan), who, themselves, were directly victims of the disaster, and from local governments.
As soon as possible after the disaster, I, myself, came to see the affected areas and to hear directly from people here. To understand their feelings as best I could, I visited Miyagi Prefecture and other Tohoku prefectures. However, seeing the depth of the scars left by the disaster, and realizing the suffering of the survivors left me speechless.
Although my visit was short, it was long enough for me to absorb the undying spirit of the people here in Tohoku and to marvel at their commitment to moving on. I became determined to do something to help restore smiles to faces in Tohoku and to take part in restoring hope to this region through step-by-step measures for ensuring a bright future.
In that spirit, we at Toyota launched the Kokoro Hakobu Project in June.
The project reflects our belief that vehicles can carry more than people and goods. They can carry the spirit of assistance that each of us shares at Toyota.
People at Toyota have always approached their work in the spirit of contributing to society through manufacturing automobiles. Ever since the disaster, I have been thinking about ways for us at Toyota to help the people of Tohoku. My conclusion is that we should work through manufacturing—together with people in the region—to build a bright future for Tohoku.
First of all, following the Chubu region (in central Japan) and the Kyushu region (in southern Japan), Tohoku, as our third manufacturing center in Japan, will be responsible for developing and assembling compact cars. It will also be in charge of production and procurement for engines and major structural and other components. We have also decided to produce a small hybrid vehicle in Tohoku.
To promote Tohoku manufacturing over the mid- and long term will require establishing a system for continuously cultivating human resources. We have decided that the Toyota Skills Academy, in Toyota City, which follows the thinking that “making things” means “making people”, will establish a similar training facility at our operations in Tohoku.
Graduates of the facility will put their skills to work at manufacturing enterprises in Tohoku to deliver products that will win the hearts of customers worldwide.
In that way, a revived Tohoku will lead Japan into the future.
That is the pattern we hope will take root.
Meanwhile, for the children who will build our future, to educational-assistance and other charity funds set up by the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima for children who lost one or both parents in the disaster, Toyota will contribute a total of three hundred million yen.
The children of Tohoku are the future of the region. The disaster orphaned more than two hundred children. More than one thousand five hundred children lost one of their parents. We at Toyota want to help those children overcome sorrow and uncertainty and, eventually, play a part in building the future of Tohoku. And that is why we have decided to contribute to funds that will provide continuing support.
Finally, I would like to introduce one of the manifestations of my learning experience from my visit to the disaster zone—the development of a hybrid vehicle that can supply electricity.
After the earthquake, we heard that our Estima Hybrid minivan played a helpful role by letting people charge their cell phones, thanks to its electricity-supply function.
Realizing that hybrid vehicles can help out in an emergency if the electricity stored in their batteries can be used to power electrical appliances and equipment, we decided to the offer the power-supply function of the Estima Hybrid as an option in the Prius in about one year.
In addition, we will install, for free, devices with the same function in units of the Prius in service in Tohoku prefectures.
We intend to enhance and continue our Kokoro Hakobu Project.
Believing that this step we take is toward the future of Tohoku and that it will help restore smiles to faces in this region, we look forward to moving ahead hand in hand with the people of Tohoku.
I ask you for your continued support in the future.
July 19, 2011
Akio Toyoda, President
Toyota Motor Corporation