"Defend your castle yourself."

released on July 2005

Taizo Ishida,
Former Chairman of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd.

The famous saying "defend your castle yourself" sums up the Toyota philosophy of self reliance. The idea reflects the notion that everyone must take responsibility for his or her own fate. Some 40 years ago, Toyota did exactly this to ensure its own survival and growth.

Toward the end of the 1960s, during the rapid growth of motorization in Japan, a growing momentum for capital liberalization was beginning to take effect, meaning companies of different nationalities would be able to compete against each other on equal terms in Japan. In view of the challenge presented by the more powerful US automakers at the time, the Japanese automobile industry was forced into action.

  • The line off of the first generation Corolla September 1966

  • The first generation Corolla at the Tokyo Motor Show, October 1966

While a number of Japanese car makers announced joint partnerships with their American counterparts, Taizo Ishida, then-Chairman of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., introduced the "defend your castle yourself" management policy, thus clearly stating Toyota's position that it would defend itself independently by becoming more competitive. It was Eiji Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. at the time, who reflected this policy in October 1969 when he announced Toyota's "mass-volume production" policy.

Toyota's ambitious policy saw it double its annual production to 2 million units in the three years up to 1971 (the year of capital liberalization). With the best selling first-generation Corolla heading a more varied line-up, Toyota had both the volume and the products to back up its aspirations. By then, strengthening its dealer network and its supplier relationships and unifying its manufacturing and sales efforts, Toyota gave itself the necessary infrastructure to take on the competition.

In these times of globalization, Toyota has evolved by promoting the spirit of "competition and cooperation." However, Toyota continues to act with self-reliance, accepting responsibility for its own conduct and for maintaining and improving the skills that enable it to produce added value — embodied in projects such as the complete development of the formula one racecar and hybrid technology.

Through continuous learning and kaizen (continuous improvement), Toyota has so far managed to grow and achieve its goals. This core Toyota philosophy, passed down from generation to generation, is still relevant today.

  • Toyota reaches the milestone of 1 million annual production in 1968

  • Toyota develops a varied product

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