Posted by: Ian Rowley on April 11, 2007
Reports in yesterday’s Nihon Keizai, Japan’s biggest business daily, reckoned that Toyota may give North American chief Jim Press on the board. The move, if it happens, will make Press, a 37-year Toyota veteran, the first non-Japanese to be a seat on the board member. Given Press’s long experience, high standing in the industry and the fact that 60% of Toyota profits are made in the U.S., the move seems pretty much a no brainer.
More puzzling, though, is news that Toyota’s China chief Yoshimi Inaba is leaving Toyota to head Central Japan International Airport Co, an airport operator with links to Toyota and based in the automaker’s home prefecture. The airport operator confirmed yesterday that Inaba, 61, will replace Yukihisa Hirano, another former Toyota exec, in June.
One can’t help thinking the move is a big loss for Toyota. Inaba, a Toyota a lifer and former head of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, has almost four decades of experience, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business and is an excellent communicator in both Japanese and English, which he speaks perfectly. The latter is pretty unusual among Japan Inc’s executive set and, one would think, is exactly the sort of thing Toyota could do with as it closes in on GM as the world’s number one automaker.