In the U.S., Toyota"s massive recall and production stoppage is widely portrayed as an embarrassing stumble for a quality-proud giant. In Japan, the tone of the press coverage of the issue has been different.
Many Japanese newspapers and magazines have portrayed the issue as the resurgence of 1980s-era trade tensions, and hostility to Japanese commerce.
A headline in the Jan. 30 issue of Toyo Keizai, a weekly business magazine, says in part: "Toyota bashing is seen, as if the past auto trade friction were reignited...".
While the story describes Toyota"s "poor handling" of the problem and "sloppy risk management" from cost cutting, it also reviews the broader political climate in the U.S., and includes a quote from a person "familiar with the auto industry." "After the collapse of GM, the U.S. auto industry has lost its morale," the person is quoted as saying. "Obama may also move to protect its own auto makers in order to win the mid-term election in fall. One possible misstep by Toyota may lead to further "Toyota bullying" which may be even more emotional."
The Jan. 30 edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan"s leading business newspaper, ran a story reporting about spreading concerns over quality of Toyota cars among U.S. consumers. The story also mentions what it says are signs of rising anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S.
The Nikkei noted, for example, a demonstration held Thursday, Jan. 28, by United Auto Workers members who opposed the closure of Toyota"s joint venture factory with GM in front of the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. holding a sign reading "Toyota is tying to hurt U.S. labor market."
The story ends by stating: "as the mid-term election is coming up in fall we cannot rule out a possibility that Toyota"s quality issue is going to become a political issue."
Also on Saturday, Jan. 30 , the Sankei Shimbun newspaper ran an article stating: "Toyota"s recall issue has triggered an emotional repulsion against Toyota in the U.S."