I find the whole Toyota recall mess fascinating.
The article I read today (by Martin Fackler, on the front page of today's International Herald Tribune) notes that Toyoto "looms so large that Japan can seem like a one-company town" and that the company has "long enjoyed near hallowed status here as the greatest practitioner of monozukuri, a centuries-old ideal of perfection in craftsmanship, seen in pottery and ancient sword-making."
"Once a leading symbol of Japan’s rise to global economic might, Toyota has become one of the most visible signs of its decline."
The piece quotes Masatomo Tanaka, a professor at the Institute of Technologists, a university in Saitama that specializes in training engineers: "At this rate, Japan will sink into the sea. If Toyota is not healthy, then Japan is not healthy."
Fackler writes: "Many economists and business executives say they hope that Toyota’s trauma will be the unsettling blow that Japan needs to understand that its reliance on manufacturing and industrial exports, which served the country so well after World War II, is no longer wise."
One expert says that "Japan must finally evolve into a postindustrial, service-based economy — a painful transition that the United States and Great Britain underwent in the 1980s" while others say it "should focus exclusively on high-end, high-profit products, like robots and fuel cells."
To read the whole article click here. (It ran first in the New York Times.)