Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Toyota Vice Chairman and Kendo

Toyota vice chairman Fujio Cho talks on how kendo paved the way to his career (Nikkei 6 Mar 2006)

I entered high school in 1952, and became friends with a boy called Yamada. When I went to his house, I found a kendo protector in a closet. In those days, school kendo was still banned remnant from Douglas MacArthur's commands. That situation made kendo more attractive. Another incident turned me on. There was a police kendo hall near Yamada's house. One day, the two of us were watching the kendo practice through a window when the instructor came up and said, "You two come in and do it." We were really beaten up the first day, but also showed up the next day. This time, the instructor showed us how to put on the protector and taught us the correct manners, and we began regular practice.
As soon as the ban on school kendo was lifted, I founded the kendo club. Kendo really suited me, and the more I practiced, the better I became. I joined the kendo club at Tokyo University, and became a regular during freshman. We frequently went away on tours and training camps. On the way back from a tour in my third year, I visited a graduate of our club who entered Toyota Motors, and did a knockout match against Toyota members. I beat 5 of them in a row. That evening, we had a drinking party with the Toyota people. It was then that their personnel manager told me to join Toyota. At the entrance exam in the English test, I didn't even know what "the Big Three" meant.
Anyway, I sometimes think that if I didn't open the closet at Yamada's house, I would have lead a completely different life.