New Honda CEO Says Yes To English After Predecessor Called It 'Stupid'

Welcome to The Drift where Jalopnik East rounds up the highlights from the Land of the Rising Sun and beyond. In today’s headlines, Honda’s new CEO announces a plan for Japan’s third largest automaker to move entirely to English and resigned Toyota executive Julie Hamp’s charges are suspended.

New Honda CEO Says Yes To English After Predecessor Called It 'Stupid'


Despite his predecessor’s declaration that the idea of having the working language of a Japanese company be anything but Japanese was “stupid,” the new Honda CEO Hachigo Takahiro has decided differently. Automotive News reports that Honda announced in its annual sustainability report that English will be the official language of interregional communications, as when different employees from different regions conduct meetings, or when documents are sent company wide. The goal is for all of this to happen by 2020.


2020 isn’t likely a coincidence. English programs throughout Japan have been gearing up for the last few years (including renewed impetus in the Japanese public school system) to have enough English speakers to take advantage of the broad international appeal of the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo. It would not, therefore, be surprising if 2020 was a target goal with various types of sponsorship potentially on the line.

This is a pretty darn good idea in the opinion of this English instructor in Japan. Students often ask me why English is important if they’re Japanese and they never plan to leave Japan after starting work for a Japanese company. This is why.

New Honda CEO Says Yes To English After Predecessor Called It 'Stupid'


Toyota’s former public relations head, Julie Hamp is not being prosecuted in charges related to her decision to mail herself narcotic painkillers for which she did not have a prescription, according to a report from Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper in Japan. The newspaper reports that there has been a “suspension of the indictment” (起訴猶予), and it’s unclear what will happen to Hamp now. The most likely scenario is deportation with some kind of ban on entering the country, but it’s really hard to say. With no position at Toyota, it’s unlikely she’ll have any good reason to remain in Japan.

New Honda CEO Says Yes To English After Predecessor Called It 'Stupid'


Despite the scandal caused by Julie Hamp, Toyota continues to talk a big game about increasing diversity, including hiring an African-American as Chief Legal Officer, also according to Automotive News. However, Toyota lags far behind competitor Nissan at employing and promoting non-Japanese individuals and women at high levels. Toyota is doing better, in general, than many companies in Japan, but if Toyoda Akio is serious about representing his company as a truly globalised and international company, he will have to do much better than he so far has. Toyota remains very Japanese and very, very male.

Images via AP and Shutterstock, modifications by Kat Callahan/Jalopnik.

Jalopnik East is your daily dose of the latest automotive news out of Asia, covering domestic developments and car culture in Japan, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Just because you can’t drive it, doesn’t mean we can’t share it with you. You can usually catch us every day between 5am and 7am ET.