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Ex-Toyota president dies at 100

Kyodo, AP

Former Toyota Motor Corp. President Eiji Toyoda, known for his efforts to bring the automaker to worldwide prominence, died Tuesday morning of heart failure at Toyota Memorial Hospital in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, the company said.

He was 100.

Toyoda, a nephew of Toyota group founder Sakichi Toyoda, served as president between 1967 and 1982, and as chairman through 1992.

He then served as honorary chairman until he was made honorary adviser in 1999. He continued in advisory positions up to his death.

Toyoda was involved in auto production and the development of the Crown, the first Japan-made sedan, while establishing technology to enable high manufacturing efficiency.

Having spent his early years on the shop floor, he helped pioneer Toyota’s reputed just-in-time production to cut waste and empower workers for continuous improvement, or “kaizen.”

Overcoming two oil crises during his tenure, he boosted Toyota’s status not only in Japan but also in other Asian countries and the United States.

He was enshrined in the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame in 1994 as the second Japanese, following Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Co.

Toyoda is survived by his three sons, Kanshiro, Tetsuro and Shuhei, all executives at Toyota affiliates. A private family funeral is planned.