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February 2010

Do Toyota's woes indicate, as some have argued, the last nail in the coffin of the mass production based export model that had served the Japanese economy so well at least through to the 1980s? In other words, does Japan need to wind down even high-tech goods manufacturing and further expand its services sector? Are consumer product safety expectations both within Japan and abroad just too demanding nowadays? Or is Toyota similar to Mitsubishi Motors, an aberrant company which for years conducted clandestine recalls - taking consumers and regulators for a ride - until an employee blew the whistle in 2000 ... almost destroying the Mitsubishi brand name? And does the Toyota saga suggest that Japan's gradual transformation in corporate governance is, well, TOO gradual?

For one view on that last point, and to encourage public comments on any of these questions or others that have been raised by Toyota's saga, I am pleased to reproduce (with permission) the following posting by an American ANJeL member on JURIST, the University of Pittsburgh's blog:

JURIST Guest Columnist Professor Bruce Aronson of Creighton University School of Law says that Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota's current safety crisis - now the subject of Congressional hearings - should prompt the company to address its seriously flawed system of governance more than just its public image....

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