TOYOTA CITY, Japan — Cecelia Kobashigawa came to the Toyota City job center with four friends. They're all in the same boat – suddenly fired from a Toyota subsidiary due to the global economic slowdown. Her eyes welled up as she told us about her 19-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son and how long they'd survive without her working. "It's so tough," she said, clutching handouts from the center on job leads.
Unfortunately, the job leads are just not there, at least not in this one industry city that lives and dies by Toyota Motor Corporation.
The news went from bad to worse on Toyota's outlook for the fiscal year. Toyota revised its earnings forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2009, to a loss three times larger than what it feared. Toyota is forecasting a net loss of $4 billion and an operating loss of nearly $5 billion. It's the first time in Toyota's 71 year history that the company will record a net or operating loss for a fiscal year.
Toyota Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita says the company is thoroughly reviewing the entire business to reduce costs across the board. He said it hopes "to achieve further cost reduction and reduce fixed costs by 10 percent." Toyota did not reveal specifics of the cost reductions.
For Kobashigawa, she's not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel in Toyota City. The city of 400,000 is seeing historic levels of unemployment. This area now has Japan's highest rate of unemployment. Under the handouts of her job leads, she also has a brochure for a training school. She's thinking of becoming a day care worker. Perhaps the joy of children could become a source of hope in these tough economic times.