Indiana University

Lee Hamilton remembers Eiji Toyoda

  • Sept. 27, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, who served in Congress from Indiana for 34 years and now directs the IU Center on Congress, remembers Japanese industrialist Eiji Toyoda, president and later chairman of the Toyota Motor Corp., who died last week at the age of 100:

"Most Hoosiers would not take note of Mr. Toyoda’s passing. But they should. They owe him quite a lot.

"Some years ago, while visiting Japan, I had a meeting with him in his Toyota City office. His company was considering building a Toyota plant in Indiana, and I wanted to tell him all the reasons I thought that would be a good idea. He received me very graciously. 'I have much data about Indiana,' he said with a gentle smile, pointing to a shelf of documents filled with data on the cost of running a business in our state -- land values, labor costs, taxes, utility rates and the like.

"'What I want to know from you,' he said, 'is this: What kind of quality of life will my employees have in Indiana? What will they find in the way of schools, health and recreation facilities, cultural activities, religious institutions?'

"I left that meeting mightily impressed. He understood the importance of a good life for his workers. He realized the connection between a strong community and productivity.

"He made the decision to build a factory in Indiana. A few years later, we crossed paths again at a Washington hotel. He called over a waiter, ordered a soda water for himself, and one for me. When they arrived, he said, 'Let’s toast to the Hoosiers!'"

Toyota’s manufacturing facility in Princeton, Ind., in operation since 1996, currently employs 4,500.

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