Friday, February 26, 2010

Emotional Americans still over-reacting

I guess. What I had thought would become another exaggerated retro-80s Car War battle, seems to have died down in the States into more or less "normal" for a corporate scandal involving defective products and consumer deaths. Whereas it may not have been a coldly logical calculation of risks associated with the defective accelerators/software/electronics or whatever (which as of yet doesn't even seem to be possible in this case) the public, media, and political reaction to the whole thing seems pretty much as expected. There were a few grand-standers, some groups with other agendas other than safety, but overall, it's about what I'd expect.

However, some disagree: "I find they (American people) are overreacting, compared with recall issues triggered by American car manufacturers. Toyota reigned as No. 1 ahead of GM, so to Americans, Toyota may be a nuisance," said Daisuke Oku, a 33-year-old civil servant. Japan Times

I don't have the coldly rational view of America that Oku does, but I'd guess that he is absolutely full of it. It's just possible that listening to four people race to their death in a Toyota that does not do what a car is supposed to do correctly---stop and go---could cause a reaction. Maybe even an overreaction. However, (ad nauseam), if the same thing had happened in Japan with a foreign product, we can be sure that the media, the public, and the government would react calmly, rationally, and with no anti-foreign bias*.

Less-informed people might even suspect that listening to such an accident involving folks whom one has no real connection with (not in my group!) 10,000 miles away via a translated recording would have less impact---provided Oku or most folk in Japan had even had the opportunity to hear the audio.**

....some have criticized the Japanese media for self-censorship.
..(same JT article)

Well, duh. Would this be new? Could we not just assume this until evidence shows otherwise---or has there been some recent change in that the norm is not self-censorship?

The Washington Post or possibly NYT had a story yesterday, which I cannot find now, that reported that some Japan-based suppliers for Toyota were cutting ties because Toyota was squeezing them to constantly cut costs. This was apparently something new and shocking to the reporter. The fact that such a decades old common practice is new and shocking to a reporter should be shocking to his/her editors and readers.

Apparently, Toyoda made a good impression with his apology before congress (and we got to read a number of explanations about Japanese apologies, weeping, bowing and so on. It's all about culture, you know...) Good. That's hopefully another step to finding and solving the problems, and Toyota will have learned a lesson that many corporations seem to have to learn and re-learn. And the usual suspects in Japan can go back to assuming that Toyota---and Japan by extension---is just a victim with little or no responsibility. It couldn't be helped....

*Warning: sarcasm.

**I have not seen nor heard the tape broadcast on Japanese TV because I have not been able to watch much news lately, what with the ice scrubbing events (curling?) in the Olympics 25 hours per day. I have not spoken to anyone (Japanese) who has seen it or is aware of it either. That does not mean it has not been broadcast, however, for since it was a critical catalyst in initiating the investigations, any media organization which ignored played do that tape, would simply be untrustworthy incompetents or propagandists.


  1. When you are tired of 'lympics, you are tired of life.

  2. It could be, Our Man. I am certainly tired of something, but I actually much prefer participating myself to watching others---with the exception of curling.