Honda CEO visits quake-hit sites by motorcycle

Honda CB1100
Honda CB1100

We’re all aware of the March 11th disaster that struck the prosperous nation of Japan, which unfortunately still renders the country in a rather crippled state. But some time has elapsed since the catastrophe and now we’re hearing some of the stories that are being shared by major players in many of Japan’s industries and what they did to make sure that everything gets back on their feet.

One of these players is the chief of Honda Motor Company, Takanobu Ito. Roughly two days after the earthquake struck, Ito personally rode his Honda CB1100 “naked” motorcycle 100 kilometers up north to plants in Tochigi after 17 employees were injured by the quakes, leaving a 43-year-old employee dead at one of the companies’ most important sites.

The Tochigi facilities are vital to Honda’s Research and Development center and despite being 200 kilometeres south of Sendai, the massive 9.0 quake was recorded at 7.0 in Tochigi.

Last Friday, Honda allowed reporters to view the damage at a design room at the R&D center that was completely destroyed by the quake from a collapsed ceiling. About 1,000 of the engineers that worked at the center were transferred to Honda’s Saitama, Suzuka and Hamamatsu factories as a temporary solution so that they could work closely with those fighting to get operations back online.

“I saw quite a lot of roads closed right after the quake,” the 57-year-old executive said. “I drove around by my motorcycle from my home, and it worked.”

The R&D center is far from abandoned though as other members of the staff were just temporarily relocated to several other buildings around the complex. As a result, Honda’s R&D was able to restart earlier than expected, reopening approximately two weeks after the quake hit.

I was really encouraged that we could restart just in a few weeks,” Mr. Ito said. “This is a place where all Honda’s brains are gathered. There is no way to shut this place. We’ll definitely re-establish here.

– By: Chris Chin

Source: WSJ