• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. on Thursday closed its joint manufacturing plant in California with General Motors Co., leaving behind deep local resentment likely to hurt the firm’s carefully cultivated reputation.

New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a 50-50 joint venture better known as NUMMI, had been a beachhead for Toyota’s entry into the U.S. market and a litmus test for the so-called Toyota Way and its “kaizen” principle.

“NUMMI’s success determined Toyota’s future,” said a technician who worked at the plant at the time.

Despite a local outcry, Toyota stuck to its decision.

Local business communities have criticized Toyota’s exit, with many of the around 4,500 NUMMI employees still unable to find new jobs.

According to estimates by U.S. media, the shutdown is likely to affect more than 20,000 people, including suppliers and other indirect jobs across California, whose unemployment rate of 12.5 percent in February was far above the U.S. average of 9.7 percent.

“Toyota needs to take full responsibility,” The San Jose Mercury News said in a recent column. “Despite all its self-inflicted problems, Toyota has plenty of money. And if Toyota doesn’t recognize its responsibility here, our politicians need to grow a backbone and make sure it does.”

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