Honda CEO Takanobu Ito on Honda CB1000

The March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan hit Honda hard, as production was down for weeks and the automaker's research and development center was badly damaged. In fact, the quake damaged the Tochigi facility so badly that one employee died and 17 others were injured after a cafeteria wall collapsed.

Due to the fact that many roads were closed or badly damaged, getting to the facility was a challenge. But that didn't stop Honda CEO Takanobu Ito from visiting the site in person to assess the damage. The Wall Street Journal reports that Ito hopped on his stripped-down, 1,100cc Honda CB1100 and headed to the site only two days after the incident. The 57-year-old CEO and his trusty bike were able travel where few autos could go, and he made it all the way to the Tochigi facility to witness the damage for himself.

The Tochigi facilities are very important to Honda as they are the company's main research and development centers. The automaker was forced to relocate 1,000 of its engineers to other facilities, but the damaged buildings still house another 500 workers. Ito adds that the automaker will rebuild at the site because it "is a place where all Honda's brains are gathered."

The fact that Ito risked his own safety to check on the welfare of his engineers has no doubt boosted his credibility among Honda employees. And it likely doesn't hurt that he got there on the back of a Honda sport bike. Nicely done, sir.

[Source: Wall Street Journal | Image: Kazuhiro Nogi/Getty]