Japan Inc. Hits Back After Trump Threatens Toyota On Twitter

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Japan said that it has been and will continue to create jobs and contribute to economic growth in the U.S. after President-elect Donald Trump threatened Toyota.

Trump criticized foreign automaker Toyota Motor Corp for its plans to build Carolla cars in Mexico.

“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

His comment shook Toyota, causing the company’s shares to drop three percent before recovering later.

The Japanese government responded on behalf of the company.

“Toyota is responsible for large employment at U.S. plants … It’s questionable whether the new U.S. president has a grasp of how many vehicles Toyota builds in the U.S.,” Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said in response to Trump’s tweet.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Toyota is an “important corporate citizen” of the U.S., one which has invested $21 billion in the U.S. over the past six decades.

Japan’s trade minister Hiroshige Seko said at a press conference Friday that Japanese companies, like Toyota, have and will continue to contribute to employment in the U.S.

“Toyota is equivalent to Japan as a whole, so Mr Trump’s criticism could be interpreted as a message to the Japanese government,” Koji Endo, motor industry analyst at SBI Securities, told the Financial Times.

Trump’s tweet appeared to confuse Toyota’s existing factory in Baja with a $1 billion dollar plan to build a plant in Guanajuato. Construction started on this plant in November. Once the Guanajuato plant opens in 2019, it is expected to have an annual production capacity of roughly 200,000 Corollas.

The factory in Baja produces pick-up trucks.

The new plant in Guanajuato will reportedly shift production from Canada, not the U.S., to Mexico.

Toyota said in an official statement Thursday that it has been a part of the “cultural fabric in the U.S. for nearly 60 years.”

“Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” the company added.

The company further insisted that no U.S. jobs would be lost.

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