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Just yesterday, Toyota Motor Company's president Akio Toyoda (yep, the grandson of the company's founder) indicated that he had no intention of attending a February 24 Congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Instead, Toyoda said that Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota's operations in North America, will appear on behalf of of the automaker.

When pressed further, though, the New York Times reports that Toyoda said he would consider attending if he received a formal invitation, none of which had been extended. Well now, that little oversight has since been corrected. Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) has sent a letter – the text of which you'll find pasted after the break – formally inviting Toyoda to attend the upcoming Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk? hearing.

Oh, and Toyoda should also feel free to submit "written testimony for the record, of any reasonable length," and to "be prepared to provide a five minute opening statement and answer questions posed by Members of the Committee." Sounds like a nifty little shindig, we'll be waiting for our own formal invitations in the mail. We'll bring the popcorn.

UPDATE: According to a statement released tonight, Akio Toyoda will testify before Congress next week, saying "I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people." Full statement after the jump.

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[Source: Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Image: Junko Kimura/Getty]
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"I have received Congressman Towns' invitation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 24 and I accept. I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people."

Chairman Towns Invites Toyota President to Testify Before Committee

Hearing set to examine safety issues, public concern with Toyota vehicles


WASHINGTON – Chairman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY) today invited Mr. Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation, to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 titled, "Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk?" According to The New York Times today, "Mr. Toyoda said he 'would consider' appearing before Congress if he receives a formal invitation, which none of the committees have issued."

Chairman Towns announced last month that the Committee is investigating Toyota's recall of millions of its vehicles due to reports of malfunctioning gas pedals. The hearing will examine the Federal government's response to the recall, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of the sudden acceleration problem in Toyota vehicles and what should be done about it.

In the letter to Mr. Toyoda, Chairman Towns wrote, "There is widespread public concern regarding reports of sudden unintended acceleration inToyota motor vehicles. There appears to be growing public confusion regarding which vehicles may be affected and how people should respond. In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it. To help clarify this situation, I am inviting you to testify..."

Text of the letter to Mr. Toyoda is below.

###

February 18, 2010

Mr. Akio Toyoda
President
Toyota Motor Corporation
c/o 601 13th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Toyoda:

As you know, there is widespread public concern regarding reports of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota motor vehicles. Toyota has recalled millions of its vehicles and even halted production. In addition, there are reports that this problem may have been the direct cause of serious injury and even death.

There appears to be growing public confusion regarding which vehicles may be affected and how people should respond. In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it.

To help clarify this situation, I am inviting you to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, February 24, 2010, at 10 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

You may submit written testimony for the record, of any reasonable length. In addition to your written testimony, you should be prepared to provide a five minute opening statement and answer questions posed by Members of the Committee.

Information for witnesses appearing before the Committee is contained in the enclosed Witness Information Sheet. In particular, please note the procedures for submitting written testimony at least two business days prior to the hearing.

We ask that you please contact the Committee by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2009, to confirm your attendance. Should you have any questions, please contact the Committee staff at 202-225-5051.

Sincerely,


Edolphus Towns
Chairman


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd like to see hari kari on this one....
      • 5 Years Ago
      So I guess he can't say no now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      imagine if it were bmw under the gun.... their written testimony would put 'war and peace' to shame.
      • 5 Years Ago
      He should met with kid gloves anyway; friendly crowd is questioning him. They will partner with whatever he says to make sure the government looks credible at the end of it.

      Very worst that will happen is a bunch of harsh words followed up with little more then a hand slap of actions.

      BTW: Firestone is Firestone .. those tires were a high risk on any vehicle. People should not bend what happen there. The parts in question with Toyota (and they are effected parts not causal) are showing to have been made exactly to the specifications provided; and even if they weren`t -- let`s hope Toyota would have check on them after 4 or 5 years of complaints.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if the Toyota execs will fly to Washington on their private jets...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course. They aren't asking for money. They have their own government to beg.
        • 5 Years Ago
        More interesting would be what kind of car does he ride in from the airport. If he rides in a Camry the Capitol Police might think it's a weapon, if he rides in a Prius he might not be able to stop at the Capitol driveway. Any other brand and Toyoda is doomed. Maybe they should locate a Checker Marathon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      For many years the relationship between Japan and the U.S. was self described in Japan as "Little Brother"... "Big Brother," a kind of relationship which dates to medieval times. This situation is culturally "Little Brother" coming before "Big Brother" and being reminded of who is who.

      In medieval Japan, Daimyo or later Kazoku fought and died over perceived insults and humiliations. It is gut wrenching and humiliating for Mr. Toyoda however right or wrong his position might be. "Big Brother" has called "Little Brother" to "Big Brothers" clan palace to deliver, in a polite way a reprimand for all to hear, a reprimand "Little Brother" will carry to the grave.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Respect for the man who Yoda within his name has
      • 5 Years Ago
      old saying comes in mind when i hear about toyota's demise

      "Being number one is easy, its staying number one that is hard"... I truly think toyota really dug them selfs into a big grave with this one. At first, i thought this could be kept under the radar, but announcing a big recall and then closing the plants to fix problems just brought more attention to toyota. I think they should of try to be as normal as possible about it, rather than make it a big deal. But im pretty sure these people know way more than i do and they have some way to save themsleves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can I bring salad?
      Michelle
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes it would still be a big deal if it was GM, Ford or Chrysler...Everytime their was a recall it made the news big time reinforcing their quality was bad while Toyotas were the best. Now we find out Toyotas quality over the last 10 years was just as faulty. They just knew how to cover it up better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't think Toyota is a bad company. They are at least fixing the problems right now. You guys seriously didn't forget when Ford wanted to make a vehicle that is cheap and made people dead by explosions? Ford said it's cheaper to pay money to the people who died than creating a new platform..... Ford = Criminal.
        Michelle
        • 5 Years Ago
        Toyota has been applying the same rule now...It was cheaper to pay people over the last five years than fix the problem...But they were caught not only on the problem but the lying that the were better and cared about thier customers more than the domestics. Now they were exposed they only care about their bottom line.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny thing is despite all of the hoopla made over the Pinto debacle, only 27 deaths were attributed to it.

        So far, 36 have been attributed to the Toyota problem, yet somehow, defenders of the brand seem to think of it as less serious.
      • 5 Years Ago
      He should read the Autoblog Ultimate recall guide cause I don't think they "Toyota" know how it happen...Everyone gets recalls but the way they handled the situation is like if they were in denial of said faults....
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