Saturday, February 27, 2010

Did he apologize?

In a formalistic manner the President Toyota did apologize to Congress and the victims of its company's mistakes. He expressed his pity and promised that the future will be better.

As the victims of Japan's wars will tell you, who still seek after 65 years a proper and sincere apology from Japan, what happens after the apology is what matters.

I am not sure if those in Asia will be completely happy with what the Toyota president said. However, will we know soon as he is traveling to China on Monday, March 1 to hold a press conference.

There are differences in what Mr.Toyoda said in his prepared testimony and what his company offered as an apology. I am actually not sure what Mr. Toyoda said in his prepared testimony as the only Japanese versions of the testimony are on Japanese newspaper sites. It is not clear if these are from an official Toyota distributed Japanese text or translated by the news organizations.

For those who study these sorts of things, I give you the elements of Toyota's apologies. I leave up to you readers to tell me if the apology is meaningful or not.

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda’s prepared testimony to House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 24 can be found in English on Toyota’s website. The Japanese draft is not located on the webpage but appeared in the Japanese press prior to the hearing (Wednesday February 24, afternoon, Tokyo time).

The specific phrase regarding apology (highlighted):

今回リコールに至った品質問題を引き起こし、それが原因で事故が起きたことはまことに残念だ。特に、サンディエゴでの事故で命を失った一家4人に深い哀悼 の意を表し、悲劇を繰り返さないよう全力を尽くす

English transliterations:

makoto ni zannen da…fukai aitou no yi wo arawashi, higeki wo kurikaesanai you zenryoku wo tsukusu.

The key words used in this statement with selected English translations:

Makoto まこと sincerely, truly
Zannen 残念 regretful, unfortunate
(fukai) Aitou 深い哀悼 (deep) condolences, regret, sorrow
Higeki 悲劇 tragedy

Mr. Toyoda’s prepared speech was given in English but he responded to questions in Japanese. According to a transcript of that session, he made the following statements regarding the family from San Diego who died in an accident:

English transliterations:
…moushi wake naku, go-meifuku wo o-inori shitai…

Moushi wake naku/nai 申し訳なく (I’m) sorry; it’s inexcusable
Meifuku wo inoru 冥福を祈る May they rest in peace

A live blogging of the event by USA Today indicates the whole deposition took three and a half hours, letting out at 5:10 pm.

Regarding the recall, the front page of Toyota Japan has the following statement that was posted February 9:


English transliterations:

taihen-na go-meiwaku…go-shimpai…kokoro kara owabi moushiagemasu.

(taihen-na) meiwaku 大変な迷惑 (great) trouble, annoyance
Shimpai 心配 worry, concern
(Kokoro kara) owabi 心からお詫び apologies (from my heart)

The announcement is almost identical to a press release of February 5 by President Toyoda. (The highlighted portions are unchanged.)

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