The Kokoro Hakobu Project and Strengthening Toyota's Manufacturing Structure in Tohoku

Immediately following the Great East Japan Earthquake, TMC took steps to help rebuild the hardest hit areas by, for example, sending contributions collected from its executives and employees and providing living necessities and vehicles in collaboration with group companies and dealers. To further enhance these efforts, TMC launched the Kokoro Hakobu Project in June 2011. The Japanese words "kokoro hakobu" are used to mean "to carry (or deliver) one's heart" to the people in the disaster-stricken area, and the project was planned and is being actively managed by TMC and dealer employees.

Project activities include the following: 1) Arranging to have dealers, Toyota Rent a Car outlets, and parts distributors nationwide purchase specialty products from Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Ibaraki prefectures and provide them as gifts to their customers, 2) Holding charity events at Toyota-related venues such as Amlux Tokyo and Megaweb, and 3) Conducting a classroom-based "Gentaiken (formative experience) Program", offering automotive knowledge to elementary school students in the disaster-hit areas.

Furthermore, based on the belief that the driving force behind revival will come from the younger generation, TMC contributed 100 million yen each to scholarship funds in three prefectures (the Iwate Hope for Learning Fund, and similar funds in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures), which were established to assist children orphaned by the earthquake disaster. Additionally, TMC decided to offer as an option for its hybrid vehicles an auxiliary power supply system capable of supplying a maximum of 1,500 W of electricity, which would be useful following a disaster. This decision was made after many customers raved about how extremely useful this system installed in the Estima Hybrid proved to be following the earthquake disaster. TMC plans to begin offering the system in the Prius in the summer of 2012 and will subsequently offer it in other models.

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, TMC had already begun considering by May 2010 to restructure its manufacturing structure, including the subsidiary vehicle manufacturers within the Toyota Group. In July 2011 after the earthquake disaster, TMC announced plans for positioning Tohoku as its third production center in Japan, following the Chubu region (central Japan) and the Kyushu region (southern Japan), as well as for helping the Tohoku region recover by strengthening TMC's monozukuri (conscientious manufacturing) activities there.

As a specific step in this initiative, TMC announced in the same month that its subsidiaries Kanto Auto Works, Ltd., Central Motor Co., Ltd., and Toyota Motor Tohoku Corporation would negotiate to merge a year later. The anticipated merger and integration will position Tohoku as TMC's third vehicle manufacturing hub in Japan. The resulting entity will specialize in compact vehicles, functioning as a semiautonomous unit that will handle the entire range of vehicle manufacturing, from R&D to production, as well as procurement and production related to engines and other vital components.

In October of the same year, TMC tentatively named the new company “Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc.” and tentatively appointed TMC Senior Managing Officer Takeshi Shirane company president. Furthermore, in December, the three subsidiaries agreed on the basic conditions for the integration, including that the Head Office would be located in Ohira Village, Kurokawa County, Miyagi Prefecture, and that Central Motor and Toyota Tohoku would be absorbed into Kanto Auto Works, the surviving company. The new Toyota Motor East Japan was merged and inaugurated on July 1, 2012 with capital of 6.85 billion yen.

Based on Toyota’s philosophy of “monozukuri is hitozukuri (human resources development)”, Toyota Motor East Japan plans to open the Toyota East Japan Technical Skill Academy at its site in April 2013, and will recruit graduates from technical high schools in the Tohoku region for its one-year training program. The academy plans to train around 15 people its first year, and in the future plans to also accept employees from companies within the region.

To top of page