September 9, 2021

JAMA Press Conference Remarks

On September 9, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) press conference was held online. Joining Chairman Akio Toyoda were Vice Chairman Toshiaki Mikoshiba (Chairman of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.), Vice Chairman Yoshihiro Hidaka (President of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.), Vice Chairman Masanori Katayama (President of Isuzu Motors Ltd.), and Vice Chairman Seiichi Nagatsuka.

The main topic of the press conference was carbon neutrality, which has been one of the most important agendas for the automotive industry and the world. As various policy-making discussions are underway, how is the Japanese automotive industry facing the global issue? JAMA executives shared their earnest thoughts.

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TOYODA Akio, Chairman

(President, Toyota Motor Corporation)

Use learnings from the Paralympics for the future

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Following on from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have recently drawn to a close. I believe many people were moved by the unique stories of para-athletes who embraced their unique conditions and tackled the challenge as only they could.

After their competitions, the athletes shared their gratitude for this opportunity of competing in the Games, for the cheering, and for the support by everyone on the operational ground.

Behind the scenes, countless volunteers and staff worked hard to make the event possible. Among them were some of our 5.5 million auto industry colleagues. What the athletes and people on the ground showed us was a desire to serve someone other than themselves. I believe that sentiment is the true legacy of these Games.

Also, as an automotive company, we want to continue working towards a mobility society that solves the social and technical challenges which the Paralympics brought to light.

Carbon is our enemy; internal combustion engines aren’t

With that, today I would like to share our current thoughts on carbon neutrality.

As COP26 approaches in November, representatives from each country have pledged various targets. To reach these goals, some have targeted cars, which is just one last process of CO2 emissions, and moved toward restricting some available options.

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In pursuing carbon neutrality, carbon is our enemy, not the internal combustion engine. To reduce carbon, I believe there should be practical and sustainable solutions that fit the circumstances of each country and region.
I also believe that taking action toward our goals is more important than setting them. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association is working towards carbon neutrality, by drawing on our country’s strength in offering a full lineup of electrified vehicles. Establishing task forces based on the specialties of member companies, we have identified the challenges and engaged in discussions with relevant government agencies.

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Each company is also speeding up efforts to expand technology options through new partnerships and practical trials.

As an early proponent of electrified vehicles, Japan’s automotive industry has been able to cut CO2 emissions by 23 percent over the past 20 years, an extremely high level by international standards.

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What we need to do over the next several years is to leverage the technological advantages that we have built up and take immediate steps to maximize CO2 reductions using the electrified vehicles we have now. Any leeway that cars are able to generate in the process may allow to put more time and resources towards technological innovation in other industries.

Based on that thinking, I believe that exploring options which fit with our country’s circumstances is both a practical and fundamentally Japanese approach.

Carbon neutrality is an issue tied to employment

As I have said previously, we must not forget that, for an export-driven country like Japan, the issue of carbon neutrality is also tied to employment.

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The reason we continue striving to expand options for achieving carbon neutrality is that we are responsible for 5.5 million auto industry jobs, and hence the lives and livelihoods of Japanese people.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election is looming. Some politicians have previously claimed that all cars should simply be battery electric vehicles, or that manufacturing is an old legacy. To these points, I disagree.

It’s easy to dismiss efforts by saying that our present course holds no future. But I believe that in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of Japanese people, we need to create a future that builds on the efforts of those who came before, as well as those of us living in the present – to ensure that the course we have charted has a future.

This is our role, our responsibility, as one of the core industries that have continued to underpin Japan’s prosperity.

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What I have come to keenly realize is that, given how closely cars are connected with people’s lives and many other industries, focusing on the auto industry can provide us with a better understanding of the challenges and timelines we face even in tackling carbon neutrality.

Clarifying these challenges and timelines can spur action on various fronts. That is why, next month, we plan to present the challenges related to energy, which is the starting point towards carbon neutrality, from the automotive industry’s perspectives, with a focus on practicality and sustainability.

We hope this will drive action across all steps in the auto industry – production, transport, and use. We will continue to take action and make our efforts as a core Japanese industry and a pacemaker in the push towards carbon neutrality. I would like to ask for your continued support for our efforts.

Full Archive of Press Conference

English closed captions available for Chairman and Vice Chairmen remarks