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9
Feb 10
Tue

The billion dollar bow

Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota, recently bowed at a press conference to express an apology in relation to the troubles they have been having with their cars. Bowing is a meaning-filled action in Japan, and the Times wrote a short guide on it:

There is the momentarily-held 10-degrees (gosh, was that your toe I trod on?), the briefly-held 25-degrees (sorry, we’ve run out of tuna) the 2-second, 45 degrees (I know you’re the Best Man, but the flight is cancelled) the 5-second 45 degrees (I’ve just backed over your dog, boss), the 20-second 90 degrees (our widget blinds kids) and the “dogeza” kneel on the floor (evacuate your village, the plant is exploding).

So when Toyoda-san made a brief dip, people criticised him for not being sufficiently contrite. The LA Times suggested this explanation:

But Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder of the Japanese automaker now battling to save its global image from the stain of safety problems, did not deliver the deeper, longer bow that some expected. Bend too low, hold the pose too long, and Toyoda might have found himself in sticky legal trouble, his ritual of apology construed as a sign that the company accepted its culpability in the mess over all those defects.

Imagine that… a few more degrees lower, a few more seconds longer, and blam!, you’re suddenly up for billions of yen in damages. You wouldn’t want to be drunk when you make that bow.

  11:52pm  •  Law  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment