Section 3. Research and Development of Basic Technology

Item 1. Establishment of a Research Laboratory

Kiichiro Toyoda believed that independent development of new technology would lead to industrial growth, and as such it was necessary to continually conduct research and create something new. His thoughts are captured below.

I want to gradually get rid of this attitude of taking the easiest path by taking someone else's hard work and making it one's own-which is the way that we have relied on the West until now. Of course, there are times when we need to import the achievements of others as is. But when we do so, though we have the ability to take such hard won achievements and improve on them, by taking the toils of others we only learn how to enjoy the benefits and we in the end lack the power and drive to further advance those innovations. If we want to truly make Japan's industry independent, we have to cultivate that drive.1

Kiichiro emphasized both practical skills and scientific research, and in May 1936 he established a research laboratory in Shibaura, Tokyo. Eiji Toyoda, who had joined the Automotive Department of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. a month earlier in April that year headed up the laboratory. Kiichiro's thoughts about scientific research can be glimpsed through the following comment:

[The automotive industry] is the industry that should be at the forefront of civilization, adopting science's latest innovations. It's an industry that relies on the culmination of knowledge from numerous quarters, not just the knowledge of a single engineer.2

According to Kiichiro, technology progressed through integrally combining practical skills with scientific research. A representative from the workshop affirmed, "when creating a prototype, he first got an engineer to make it, and if it worked, then he got an academic to figure out the theory".3

The Shibaura Laboratory investigated radiators, gas generators for charcoal powered vehicles, and parts for Japanese-made vehicles, disassembled and sketched a German DKW car, and investigated various aeronautical machines and equipment, such as the French-made light aircraft 'Pou', helicopters, autogyros, rockets, and related machine tools.

The research laboratory of the Automotive Department of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works became the Research Division of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. upon the latter's establishment in August 1937. The research advisors were academic friends of Kiichiro.4

Topics of research included different parts, materials and processes such as cogs, radiators, crankshafts, stamping and steel plates, as well as engine performance. Many of Kiichiro's high school and university friends assisted in the research. Results of the investigations and research were published in the magazine Kikai oyobi Denki ("Machines and Electricity"; first published in May 1936), as the Research Division sought to obtain and disseminate the latest knowledge while embarking on its research and development projects. The magazine carried numerous articles written by the division's research advisors.5

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