Toyota Ethical Questions Raise Ethical Questions About Japanese Government

Ìn August 2010, the government has issued two more recalls for Toyota vehicles. These recalls affect a steering system
defect in Avalons built from 2000 to 2004 and an unrelated steering problem in Lexus LX 470 SUV's from 2003 to 2007.
What is notable is why these defects weren't brought up prior to this period.
Earlier this year, Toyota officials were questioned by members of Congress about the cover up of Toyota defects by
company officials and the actions of the US regulatory agency NHTSA in not pressing for recalls on Toyota vehicle with
possible safety defects. Ìn internal Toyota documents submitted to Congress, company officials noted that "Negotiated
"equipment recall on Camry/ES re: SA, saved $100M+, w/no defect found.¨ (SA stands for sudden acceleration). The
NHTSA has received complaints about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles for years. 39 deaths in the U.S. have been
attributed to the problem.
Ìn regard to influence of Toyota on the NHTSA and the disturbing lack of response of NHTSA officials to complaints
about Toyota safety defects, it appears that one reason may be due to Toyota hiring former NHTSA officials to influence
NHTSA decisions. Former NHTSA regulators, hired by Toyota Motor, helped to end at least four U.S. investigations of
unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles in the last decade. Christopher Tinto, vice president of regulatory affairs in
Toyota's Washington office, and Christopher Santucci, who works for Tinto, influenced NHTSA decisions about Toyota
vehicle defects. Tinto joined Toyota directly from the NHTSA in 1994, Santucci began working at Toyota in 2003 directly
from the NHTSA. Ìt is against federal law for federal government employees to work for companies that are related to the
work that they are doing while employed by the federal government until two years after they have quit their jobs in the U.S.
government.
Both Toyota and Christopher Tinto and Christopher Santucci violated federal law. Neither Ford nor GM has hired former
NHTSA officials according to spokespeople for both companies. Toyota's involvement with NHTSA brings into focus
Toyota's influence on U.S. government officials and what effect it has had on recalls of cars with Toyota defects. Ìn a larger
sense, it is illustrative of the influence of Japanese auto companies overall and the influence they have sought to have with
the U.S. government to assure policies that benefit Japanese auto companies and the Japanese economy and detriment
U.S. auto companies and the American people.
Toyota is one of a number of Japanese auto companies who have pursued a policy of lobbying U.S. government officials
and funding U.S. political candidates both nationally and locally. Ìn the case of Toyota specifically, more than forty percent of
the congressional members serving on the three committees investigating Toyota have received campaign donations over
the last ten years from Toyota.
Toyota has contributed donations through political action committees in a useful loophole in U.S. campaign finance laws
that allow foreign individuals and foreign companies to circumvent U.S. campaign finance laws by contributing instead to
Political Action Committees or PACS. Ìn the case of Toyota and other Japanese automakers, these PACs have included
both industry specific PACs where Toyota and other Japanese auto companies deceitfully present themselves as "American
auto companies¨ to participate in U.S. auto manufacturing political action committees and other types of political action
committees or PACS that are being created for the purpose of funneling foreign campaign donations to U.S. politicians and
influencing government policy. Toyota has spent millions on both at both the national and local level, as have other
Japanese auto firms.
One of the things that the Japanese auto companies funding of U.S. politicians has resulted in is a U.S. government
allowance of fully destructive, unfair, and detrimental trade policies that have served to destroy the U.S. auto industry and
bankrupt U.S. automakers, while Japanese automakers are thriving due to their financial political clout.
Ìn hearings over the Toyota issue, Congressional members had a difficult time getting Toyota officials to acknowledge that
they knew there was a problem or that they would rectify it, North American Toyota head Yoshimi Ìnaba went out of his way
to make the point that Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton's Toyota Camry was an "American car¨ because some parts
of the car were made in the U.S.
Ìn fact, the Toyota Camry is not an "American car¨ it is a Japanese car. The Japanese government is quite clear what are
Japanese cars and what are U.S. cars. The U.S. cars are the cars that the Japanese government has not allowed to be
imported into Japan, in violation of the WTO agreements they have signed. The Japanese government, funneling money
through their national automakers to U.S. lawmakers, has sought to assure that the door to American cars as well as other
American products has been fully closed to importation into Japan while conversely working to assure that the importation of
Japanese cars into the U.S. has been allowed without limits at the same time. U.S. government officials have been working
in the best interest of Japan and the Japanese government and against the best interest of the American people and
American companies as they have allowed Japan for decades to close their doors to U.S. products, including U.S.
automobiles.
While Japan allowed through severe restrictions only a few thousand U.S. vehicles into Japan each year for decades,
Japan has imported millions of vehicles into the U.S. each year. While Japan has built numerous Japanese auto plants and
auto supply plants in the U.S. it has not allowed U.S. automakers or U.S. auto suppliers who have wanted to build plants in
Japan for decades to build them in Japan, in total violation of WTO laws. For decades, Japanese government officials have
promised they would open their domestic market to U.S. autos, and they never did. After targeting, with Germany, U.S. auto
companies the Japanese government has massively weakened and bankrupted two U.S. automakers. The same day that
Toyota government officials were testifying before Congress, former GM owned Saab was sold to Spyker Motors and the
GM brand Hummer sale fell through, prompting officials to say that they would discontinue it.
Toyota officials claimed that they didn't pay attention to the safety issues because they were in a hurry for expansion. Ìt
appears that the hurry for expansion was a hurried assault on the U.S. auto industry within the last ten years to drive it out of
business. Ìn the last ten years, Japanese automakers have massively increased their numbers of brands and models to
work with Germany to create overcapacity in the U.S. auto market to bankrupt U.S. automakers supported by subsidies by
the Japanese and German governments. Ìn the last ten years, Japanese auto imports to the U.S. have doubled, serving to
displace U.S. vehicle sales, weaken U.S. auto companies and drive them out of business.
One of the results of paying off NHTSA officials with employment after their tenure as NHTSA officials has both to avoid
the recalls and financial losses of the recalls that should have been issued. Ìt also resulted in unwarranted good press for
Toyota vehicles and lack of bad press that served to drive up Toyota sales with a carefully planned propaganda campaign
that the Japanese along with German government officials work to coordinate with their economic industry targeting
campaigns.
Ìn the case of Toyota, it is significant that what is now occurring is a mass of bad press about Toyota vehicles, about a
number of different defects in different Toyota vehicles, for different problems in different systems, in the steering wheels,
brakes, electronics, and for problems that have been ongoing for at least ten years. These were years when Toyota was,
both in it's company statements and it's car advertisements presenting their cars as "superior¨ and of "superior quality¨ to
U.S cars and safe. Ìn congressional testimony, Toyota execs claimed that neither they nor their cars were "perfect¨.
However, these were exactly the propaganda terms that Toyota and in fact all Japanese car companies were using in a
coordinated, concerted ongoing campaign together to present Japanese automobiles as "perfect¨ and of "superior quality¨
and superior to U.S. automobiles to work to target the U.S. auto industry. The payment to former NHTSA officials through
employment served the purpose of not only not having to fix the problems in Toyota cars, but also to avoid the negative
press that a number of ongoing problems and recalls for a number of different problems in a number of different Toyota
vehicles over the years would have resulted in, thus hurting Toyota's reputation and sales and the expansion that Toyota
execs stated they sacrificed safety for.
The payment of NHTSA officials through employment, is not the only means that Japanese automakers have used to gain
beneficial press for Japanese vehicles and negative press for U.S. automobiles. A number of NHTSA officials have had
connections to Consumer's Union, the consumer's group that publishes Consumers Report Magazine. The latest ratings by
Consumer Reports Magazine placing three Japanese vehicles in "first place¨ including Toyota in third place in it's annual
rating of vehicles raises troubling questions about Consumer's Reports ratings and their legitimacy.
Although Consumer's Report presents their ratings as "without financial conflict of interest¨, Consumers Union, which
publishes Consumer's Report Magazine, receives millions of dollars in donations a year, millions of dollars that are
deliberately not disclosed by Consumer's Report when they are making their ratings. These donations have included
Japanese sources. As well as NHTSA officials and their connections to Consumers Union, another person who has had
connections to Consumers Union and someone who has created a number of consumer's organizations that have
specifically targeted U.S. automakers and U.S. companies, is Ralph Nader.
Ralph Nader wrote the book "Unsafe at Any Speed¨ which attacked the new GM small car line the Corvair. The book
"Unsafe at Any Speed¨ came out in the mid sixties, at the same time that Japan was importing en masse five small car
models into the U.S. for the first time, in direct competition with the GM Corvair line. Nader's book served to destroy the GM
Corvair, thus leaving the field open for Japanese automakers. At the same time, as soon as Consumer's Reports started
rating Japanese vehicles, they immediately started giving them "superior¨ to U.S. vehicles rating, even though Japanese
vehicles clearly had major problems with rust and durability in the early years. Ralph Nader formed a number of
organizations that worked against U.S. companies. His organizations played a major role in pushing for anti monopoly
enforcement against U.S. electronics companies in the 1960's. This occurred at the same time that Japan was making major
inroads into the U.S. electronics sector. After Japanese and German electronics companies in concert with each other had
driven U.S. electronics companies out of business, Nader said nothing about the monopoly control of the Japanese big
electronics firms in the U.S. Ralph Nader served as a political candidate in the 2000 election, and although he had no
chance of winning, he remained in the presidential race, serving as a "winger¨ candidate, to deliver Bush into the White
House. During the presidential campaign, Ralph Nader's primary campaign platform was against "big business¨. However,
Nader's campaign was only against "US big business¨ not "Japanese big business¨ and his primary target was US defense
related companies. The U.S. auto industry is a primary defense sector industry.
Japanese auto companies have also been involved in conflicts of interest and fraudulent activities related to J.D. Powers
and Associates, a market research firm that gets a great deal of publicity for their yearly automotive ratings. Ìn the past J.D.
Powers and Associates has had a conflict of interest by working for Nissan Motors in holding training sessions for Nissan
Motors employees. Honda Motors has also been found to have corrupted J.D. Powers and Associates ratings when Honda
dealers were discovered to be filling out the J.D. Powers Associates consumer surveys of new cars and sending them in
themselves to J.D. Powers and Associates. J.D. Powers and Associates means of polling, which is through receiving
surveys back from car purchasers is not considered a credible means of market research by most market research firms,
who would not use that means as a valid source of market research information. J.D. Power and Associates has however,
gotten a high degree of publicity for their polling results and they have consistently rated Japanese vehicles much higher
than U.S. vehicles in their primary polling criteria ÷ safety. Given their polling methods and the actions by two Japanese
automakers that have served to compromise the integrity of their ratings, it also brings up Japanese automakers actions in
trying to present falsely favorable information about Japanese vehicles.
The actions seen with NHTSA, consumer groups and J.D. Powers and Associates indicate a deliberate policy on the part
of the Japanese government with all of their Japanese auto companies to deliberately deceive people about the quality and
safety of Japanese products and to harm U.S. automakers through that deception.
As well, the problems with Toyota vehicles is part of a much larger issue that includes not only Toyota but other Japanese
car companies, and overall, the Japanese government and it's aggressive, unethical, deliberately deceitful and illegal
economic policies worldwide. Ìn congressional testimony, NHTSA officials described a situation in dealing with Toyota
officials in Japan where they appeared to be unresponsive to complaints, unwilling to address substantive problems and
issues. This description could be used to describe as well the larger issue of Japanese government involvement in illegal
ongoing trade practices in violation of the WTO agreements that Japan has signed, and their unresponsiveness and
seeming unwillingness to change. Ìt also calls into question the clear corruption and problems with U.S. lack of enforcement
of WTO agreements, corrupt and nationally harmful campaign financing that allows foreign contributions and the need for
U.S. government actions in prosecuting criminal offenses such Toyota's actions involving the NHTSA.

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