On arrival at Narita airport in 2009, the incoming chief executive of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., Albert Kirchmann, asked his assistant there to pick him up, “Tell me, what are ‘my people’ expecting?” Hesitantly, the assistant replied, “They are expecting you to defend Fuso by standing up for us at Daimler’s Stuttgart headquarters.” Daimler is the Japanese firm’s German parent.

Mitsubishi Fuso is one of the biggest foreign companies in Japan and among the largest foreign employers. Many of the firm’s then 20,000 mostly local employees had lost confidence, both in themselves and in their leaders. Kirchmann had been sent by the headquarters to turn the huge but ailing bus and truck manufacturer around.

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