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2009年1月21日 (水)

トヨタ社長交代 非常時の「大政奉還」の意味

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 21, 2009)

Embattled Toyota crowns Toyoda scion

トヨタ社長交代 非常時の「大政奉還」の意味(121日付・読売社説)

Having decided to place itself in the hands of the founding family again, Toyota Motor Corp. apparently intends to make a united effort to rebuild the company's management under the family's leadership.

The automaker has picked Executive Vice President Akio Toyoda, 52, a member of the founding family, as president, a move that could be compared to the "taisei hokan," the return of power to the emperor from the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867. It will be the first time in 14 years that a Toyoda family member has taken the helm of the company.

 創業家のもとに、結束して経営の立て直しを急ぐ。14年ぶりの「大政奉還」には、そんな狙いが込められている。

 トヨタ自動車が、豊田章男副社長(52)の社長昇格を内定した。

The business performance of Toyota, which was seen the nation's largest and strongest company, has been deteriorating sharply. This has affected the nation's manufacturers as a whole and has become one of the causes of the serious employment situation.

 日本最大、最強といわれたトヨタの業績は急激に悪化している。その影響は製造業全体に及び、深刻な雇用問題を引き起こす一因にもなっている。

So the nation's economy can recover, it is essential that Toyota regain its strength. The company's new management should get back to basics so it can carry out a drastic overhaul of its business.

 日本経済の回復には、トヨタの復活が欠かせない。新経営陣は原点に戻って、思い切った経営刷新に取り組んでほしい。

Toyoda is a great-grandson of Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota group. The family scion became a member of the automaker's board of directors at the age of 44 and has been engaged in such key tasks as domestic sales promotion and projects in China.

 社長に就任する章男氏は、トヨタグループの創業者である豊田佐吉のひ孫にあたる。44歳で取締役に昇格し、国内販売や中国事業などの花形部門を担当してきた。

This "prince" of the Toyoda family will take the helm of the company after three "chief clerks" from outside the founding family reigned in succession, likely out of judgment that the company needs to start from scratch by overhauling its management strategy.

 3代続いた「大番頭」出身の社長に代わり、この時期に「豊田家のプリンス」がトップになるのは、これまでの経営戦略を、原点に返って見直す必要があるとの判断からだろう。

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Limits to cost-cutting efficacy

The company achieved steady growth by strengthening its overseas production using its technology and profits it obtained through stringent cost-cutting efforts, which were compared to "wringing water out of dry rags." Not only has it become the world's largest automaker in terms of production, it looks set to overtake General Motors Corp. as the world's largest carmaker in terms of sales last year.

 トヨタは「乾いたぞうきんを絞りきる」徹底した効率化で得た利益と技術で海外生産を強化し、順調に成長してきた。生産台数に続き、昨年は販売台数でもゼネラル・モーターズ(GM)を抜き、世界一の座に就いた模様だ。

But as car sales became sluggish in the wake of the global financial crisis, Toyota's performance changed dramatically. Rising prices of raw materials and other factors made it difficult for the company to reduce costs, which had been its chief strength. Exchange rate losses also hit the company hard.

 ところが、世界的な金融危機の影響で車が売れなくなると、業績は一転した。原材料高などで得意の原価低減もままならず、為替差損が業績を直撃した。

Consolidated operating profits, which once exceeded 2 trillion yen for the group as a whole, have been wiped out in only about a year. This leads us to conclude that there must have been major blind spots in the company's management, although it looked very solid.

 グループ全体で2兆円を超えていた営業黒字が、わずか1年で消し飛んでしまった。盤石に見えた経営に、大きな死角があったと言わざるを得ない。

The company may have overreached itself as it hurried to grab the position of the world's top carmaker. Some observers say the company grew conceited, assuming that its brand would always sell well. It certainly cannot be denied that the company was unable to shift from a structure under which it was overdependent on North American markets to raise profits.

 世界一の座を焦って、背伸びをし過ぎたのではないか。トヨタ車なら売れるはず、という慢心を指摘する声もある。米国市場に過度に収益を依存する体質から抜け出せなかったことも否めまい。

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New strategy needed

Under the new leadership, the company says it intends to shift to a structure under which it could generate profits even if sales declined 20 percent from their peak level. It will be unavoidable for the company to undergo restructuring by scaling down its production and carrying out further job cuts.

 トヨタは新体制のもとで、販売台数がピーク時より2割減っても利益を出せる体質への転換を目指すという。生産体制の縮小やさらなる人員削減といったリストラは避けて通れないだろう。

But only promoting such austerity measures aimed at recovering earnings would soon cast a shadow over the new president's leadership. To lead this global company, it is important for Toyoda to come up with an aggressive management strategy for making a comeback.

 だが、後ろ向きの収益改善策を進めるだけでは、新社長の求心力はすぐに色あせてしまう。世界企業であるトヨタをまとめ上げるには、復活に向けた攻めの経営戦略を示すことも重要だ。

Automakers around the world are facing disaster, which begs the question of whether the auto industry will be able to maintain its place at the top of the manufacturing sector. Toyoda will be tested for his ability to serve at the top of the car industry.

 世界の自動車メーカーの業績は総崩れだ。自動車産業は、今後も製造業の頂点に立ち続けることができるのか。そのトップに就く章男新社長の力量が問われよう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2009)

20091210157  読売新聞)

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