Tokyo Notes

Toyota Head Misses Chance

Toyota President Akio Toyoda missed a golden opportunity to set things right.

Akio Toyoda, president of the world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota, finally appeared in public Friday to officially apologize for the accelerator-related problems that have led to the recall of 8 million cars and complaints surrounding the brakes of its Prius hybrid.

His failure to appear before the media before Friday’s hastily arranged press conference in Nagoya had strengthened the impression of a company leadership intent on downplaying the worst public relations crisis in the automaker’s history.

But after the sluggishness of the company’s recall of cars over persistent gripes over its accelerator pedal jamming, Toyoda missed the opportunity to show a heightened awareness of the need for quick action through a recall of the Prius within days of reports of brake problems.

A recall now looks imminent, but Toyoda’s cautious approach in not announcing it on Friday won’t have helped his company’s cause.