BUSINESS HISTORY REVIEW
Courage and Change: The Life of Kiichiro Toyoda. By Kazuo Wada and Tsunehiko Yui,
translated by Edmund R. Skrzypczak. Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corporation, 2002. xiii + 330 pp.
Photographs, illustrations, appendix, notes. Cloth. ISBN: 4-990-10301-7.
Reviewed by David Farber
The Toyota Motor Corporation authorized this thoroughly researched and well-written biography
of its founder, Kiichiro Toyoda (1894–1952). The authors are both eminent Japanese business
historians. Tsunehiko Yui wrote the first two chapters, which focus on the inventive genius
Sakichi Toyoda (1867–1930), the father of both Kiichiro Toyoda and Japan’s power-loom
industry. The next six chapters and the epilogue, written by Kazuo Wada, explore Kiichiro
Toyoda’s long and difficult struggle to advance the power-loom business and then, in the 1930s
and 1940s, to create and develop the Toyota automobile industry. The work’s title, Courage and
Change, captures the authors’ overarching thesis: Toyoda recognized that the nascent automobile
industry represented an extraordinary domestic business opportunity, and though he was aware of
the immense challenges inherent in starting up an automobile company in Japan in the 1930s, he
threw himself into the enterprise. While Yui and Wada write in measured tones throughout, they
demonstrate that Kiichiro Toyoda’s success, like that of American founding auto giants Henry
Ford, Alfred Sloan, and Walter Chrysler, is the stuff of legends.
Kiichiro Toyoda was, perhaps, more like an Alfred Sloan than a Henry Ford or a Walter
Chrysler. While Sakichi Toyoda was a self-taught inventor who made the extraordinary leap
from rural village life to industrial leadership (shades of Henry Ford), his son, after some family
debate, was raised to take a place in a rapidly modernizing and industrializing Japan. Kiichiro’s
path was by no means an easy one. His mother left his father less than a month after Kiichiro’s
birth; as a result, Kiichiro was at first