NAGOYA (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Hiroshi Okuda left the helm of the No. 1 Japanese automaker Friday after holding the posts of president and chairman for 11 years.

Vice Chairman Fujio Cho will replace Okuda as chairman and Okuda is expected to remain a director and executive adviser at the Nagoya-based automaker to continue supporting President Katsuaki Watanabe.

The reshuffle was approved at a board meeting after the day’s general shareholders’ meeting.

Okuda steps down at a time when Toyota, the world’s second-largest automaker, is seeing strong group growth and is expected to soon overtake General Motors Corp. of the United States.

Okuda is known for having played a leading role in reflecting the business community’s opinions in the government’s reform programs.

He has been a member of key policy panels set by the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, including the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy.

Okuda stepped down last month as chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) after four years as the head of Japan’s most powerful business lobby.

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