In Memoriam: Shoichiro Toyoda

Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda (left) receives the Japan Society Centennial Award from Japan Society Chairman James S. McDonald and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (right). Photo © Satoru Ishikawa.

Japan Society notes with deep sadness the passing of Shoichiro Toyoda (1925-2023), former Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation and head of Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) from 1994-1998. Dr. Toyoda was the grandson of noted inventor Sakichi Toyoda who developed the automatic wooden loom, and the son of Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Dr. Toyoda was a great friend and supporter of Japan Society. A frequent participant in Society programs, he chaired the Society’s Japan Advisory Committee for a number of years, and was Co-Chair of the Centennial Honorary Committee together with David Rockefeller, brother of former Japan Society Chairman and President John D. Rockefeller 3rd. One of the most tangible results of his vision and commitment was the Society’s Toyota Language Center, a national resource for Japanese language instruction and training. In 1996, Dr. Toyoda gave the keynote address at the Society’s Annual Dinner, stating: “The cultivation of close economic ties between the United States and Japan is rooted in mutual trust. That has been my fervent wish over the years. That is why I have such respect for the excellent work of Japan Society in promoting understanding between our nations.” Dr. Toyoda received the Japan Society Award in 2000 and the Japan Society Centennial Award in 2007.

We have lost a giant in U.S.-Japan relations and a dear friend of Japan Society. May Dr. Toyoda’s legacy be a blessing to all who knew him, with our deepest respect for his family, company, and his many friends.

Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda, second from right, with Society Chairman Michael I. Sovern (far right), Society President William H. Gleysteen, Jr., and Society Secretary Alice Young in 1993, during a tour of the newly opened Toyota Language Center. Photo © William Irwin.
Dr. Toyoda greets David Rockefeller at the Centennial Gala reception. Photo © Satoru Ishikawa.
At the 2007 Japan Society Centennial Gala (left to right): Ambassor Motoatsu Sakurai, Consul General of Japan in New York; The Hon. John D. Rockefeller IV, U.S. Senator, West Virginia; Japan Society Chairman James S. McDonald; Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda; David Rockefeller; and Justin Rockefeller. Photo © Satoru Ishikawa.