A Candid Talk with Honda CEO Takanobu Ito about Their Disastrous Year and Their Hopeful Future
When the Japanese people undergo a crisis either personal or communal in nature, rarely will they speak ill of any other person or entity but rather will try to paint it all in the most positive light possible. Of course, on the inside they may feel differently but as a culture the Japanese are all about taking ultimate personal responsibility for past mistakes, fixing them and moving on.
We are not saying that the most widely played sport in the U.S.A is “the blame game” but if you pay any attention you will notice the difference in personal and business behavior on the part of both countries. This is also not to take sides and say Japanese stoicism is something we need to see more of in our country but rather it is to help explain why there is a sense in the U.S.A that Japan is located on another planet entirely.
This, of course, is completely untrue and anyone who has spent time living in Japan will soon learn to communicate “between the lines” and not be so aggressive in conversation (or during interview questioning which is a challenge for U.S. auto journalists in Japan). But when you know what to say, when to say it and how to say it, you will easily find out information that you never would have gotten out of a KGB interrogation.
The following is a record of what was discussed with Honda CEO Takanobu Ito at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show on a wide variety of topics. Sometimes he laughed and smiled openly and freely while at other times he dabbed sweat from his brow with a handkerchief and looked down at his hands when anyone mentioned anything that his company had done incorrectly in the recent past.