The car company has posted good earnings of late. But after founder’s grandson Akio Toyoda took the helm in late 2008, the safety record was bad. Western CEOs might have employed aggressive public relations staff to steer the media away from reporting the problems. Not Toyoda. He gave himself a stern talking to instead, and shed some tears.

In February 2010, Toyoda attended a US congressional hearing after Toyota recalled millions of cars. At the hearing (video) Toyoda said “I take all responsibility” for the recalls. He castigated himself for allowing Toyota to put company expansion before safety, adding “our priorities became confused.” Later, apologising to Toyota’s US staff about the recalls, Toyoda cried (video). Choking over his words, he thanked them for being “there with me” at the congressional hearing and said “we, Toyota, are at a crossroad. We need to rethink everything about our operation to regain customer confidence.”

In early 2009, when most of the car industry was devastated by the great recession, Toyoda said during a Japanese press conference that his company faced “capitulation to irrelevance or death.” The firm, he added, was “grasping for salvation.”  Instead of blaming the global economy, as Western CEOs like to, Toyoda said his company had simply not built good enough cars.  ”They say that young people are moving away from cars,” he said. “But surely it is us—the automakers—who have abandoned our passion for cars.”

Daio Paper Corp’s Mototaka Ikawa: I spent the company’s money in casinos. 

Mototaka Ikawa did not apologize in person. But on the day last November when he was arrested on suspicion of using his family firm’s money to gamble in casinos, he let his admissions flow freely. Even though it would be months before he stood trial, Ikawa admitted in a statement issued just after his arrest: ”It is true that I spent most of what I borrowed at casinos.” He continued: ”It started after I made large gains at a casino after having made significant losses due to such things as stocks, futures and foreign exchange deals, and I fell deep into it.” He was recently sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

Yamaichi Securities boss Shohei Nozawa, who cried and cried and shouted and cried.

After the stockbroker he led went bankrupt in 1997 due to accounting fraud, president Shohei Nozawa stood with a microphone under his chin and sobbed. In what became an iconic image of Japan’s financial crisis, he bowed deeply, over and over again. And with each bow, he howled some more. He also reportedly shouted: “It is management’s fault, and not the rank and file’s fault!” Sadly, this gem has not made it onto YouTube.

West Japan Railway: there was a 15-minute delay and no one missed their train. We are so deeply sorry. Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal for spotting this one . Kyoto station opened 15 minutes late on the morning of Oct. 29 this year because a railway worker briefly fell asleep. That was enough to prompt the company responsible for the railway to issue a statement (Japanese) on its website explaining the mishap and saying that the delinquent employee would receive disciplinary training so “such an incident doesn’t occur again.”

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