• Kyodo


The vice president of the largest U.S. autoworker union visited the headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday, urging the carmaker to rethink its decision to shut its Fremont, Calif.-based factory, Toyota officials said.

United Auto Workers Vice President Bob King issued the appeal in a meeting with Toyota Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi at the head office in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.

King told Niimi the closure of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI, will severely undermine employment in the local economy, according to the officials.

But a Toyota official said, “We do not intend to alter the plan to halt production as of April 1.”

The UAW plea for a meeting between King and Toyota President Akio Toyoda was not granted, they said.

Last Aug. 28, Toyota announced its decision to close down NUMMI, which was founded in 1984 as a 50-50 joint venture with General Motors Corp. The U.S. auto giant was renamed General Motors Co. last year when it emerged from bankruptcy.

The California venture was established at the height of Japan-U.S. auto trade friction.

The venture, with about 4,700 workers, has been a major employer in the state, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked Toyota not to shut the factory.

Toyota has said that after GM’s decision to pull out of the venture, it will not be able to run the factory profitably on its own.

Toyota has been manufacturing the Tacoma pickup truck and the Corolla sedan at the factory in recent years.

FHI ties bolstered

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that Managing Officer Mitsuru Takada will serve as corporate senior vice president at Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. from April 1 to improve the automakers’ partnership.

Takada took charge of negotiations when Toyota, Fuji Heavy’s leading shareholder, bought the latter firm’s stock in 2005.

To date, Toyota has not sent any of its executives to Fuji Heavy.

The two automakers are developing hybrid vehicles through their collaboration.

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