Toyota President Akio Toyoda tapped for rare third term to helm Japan’s industry group

TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda has been appointed to serve a rare third term as chair of Japan’s automobile industry association, in a move to provide continuity and senior leadership as the country’s carmakers grapple with the shift to carbon neutrality.

Toyoda, who took the wheel of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association in 2018, will assume a third two-year term from May 2022, the organization announced Nov. 18.

During his tenure, Toyoda, 65, has been a vocal advocate for preserving a strong domestic base for Japan’s auto industry. He also made heroic efforts to revive the flagging Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, the last time it was held before the pandemic put the exhibition on hiatus until 2023.

The scion to Toyota Motor’s founding family has emerged as a kind of elder industry statesman, championing a range of causes from decarbonization and job preservation to the fun of driving.

Toyoda has been at the helm of Toyota Motor since 2009 — longer than nearly every other currently serving automaker CEO. The chairmanship of JAMA usually rotates every two years between Toyota, Honda and Nissan. But with relatively new CEOs at both Nissan and Honda, the veteran Toyota chief said he was asked to stay on again for continuity’s sake.

“The member companies said to me, we are now at a time of major transformation, such as achieving carbon neutrality, so we want to work under the same leader,” Toyoda said in an online news briefing. “I decided to accept because if my own experience of responding to crisis will contribute to overcoming the difficulties we are facing now, I would be more than happy. For the future of the automobile industry and for the future of Japan, I will do everything I can.”

A focus of the upcoming administration will be tackling the industry’s shift to carbon neutrality and achieving the Japanese government’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

As part of a JAMA overhaul announced Nov. 18, the group adopted new vice chairmen from the the bus-and-truck sector and from the motorcycle sector to better coordinate carbon- neutral activities. Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, who took the helm at his company in late 2019, and Honda’s Toshihiro Mibe, who became CEO in April, were also appointed vice chairmen.

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