As was expected, Nikkei reports that Mr. Akio Toyoda, the crown prince of the founder's family, is to take the company's president position in June this year.
Even the invincible Toyota is hard hit by the global recession, and is expecting an operating loss at the end of this fiscal year (March 09), the first time in their corporate history.
Now, there have been much speculation in the Japanese blogosphere that they are just "playing dead", to avoid becoming a target of bashing while US car manufacturers are in deep trouble, and to make it easier to cut people.
Now that Akio is in position, I am feeling more and more that the speculation is not totally groundless.
It is funny to see that the largest company in Japan is the "family business". The founder's family is such a sacred thing for all Toyota people, especially the "direct family line" (founder Kiichiro, his first son Shoichiro, and his first son Akio). Each time the direct line member takes the helm, the media refer to it as "taisei hokan" ("handing back the helm"), the historical term used when Tokugawa Shogunate returned the country's governance to the Emperor in 1864. Akio has been carefully groomed just like the first son of an Emperor. It is unthinkable to put the precious heir into a risk. It is reasonable to assume that the company's executives somehow KNOW that they are OK. Maybe they are scripting a super hero story, that Akio comes in during the worst of time, and will turn the company around.
So if you still have some money to invest, buy Toyota share. I am pretty sure that they are TOTALLY OK.