SPARK PLUG

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Spark Plug - VER­NON B. SARNE Ed­i­tor in Chief ver­non.sarne@sum­mitme­dia.com.ph

For as long as I can re­mem­ber, I have al­ways been a fan of Ja­panese cul­ture. As with many Filipinos who were small kids in the ’70s, my fas­ci­na­tion with Ja­pan started with those su­per ro­bots (Mazinger Z, Voltes V, Daimos, Dan­guard Ace, Mekanda Robo, UFO Gren­dizer, Gaik­ing, Get­ter Robo, Jeeg, Com­bat­tler V). Think­ing about it now, th­ese car­toons prob­a­bly laid down the foun­da­tion for my per­sis­tent be­lief that the Ja­panese are the best in the world when it comes to me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing.

The phrase “Made in Ja­pan” held a lot of weight to me as a young­ster. My first se­ri­ous watch was a Seiko 5, back in el­e­men­tary school. To my un­so­phis­ti­cated mind then, if it wasn’t man­u­fac­tured in Ja­pan, it wasn’t the best. Sim­ple as that.

I will ad­mit that this be­lief has re­mained with me up to this day. I own dozens of G-Shock watches, for in­stance, and their place in my heirar­chy of im­por­tance is de­ter­mined by their prove­nance. Some were made in Thai­land, and a few were as­sem­bled in China. They’re okay, but I view with more fa­vor those pieces that dis­play “JA­PAN” on the back of the case.

Even with cars th­ese days, I some­how pre­fer Ja­panese to Ger­man-made au­to­mo­biles. Se­ri­ously. For all the talk about Ger­man engi­neer­ing, I choose to think that noth­ing beats the Ja­panese’s tech­no­log­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Dur­ing the re­cently held 44th Tokyo Mo­tor Show, I dis­cov­ered some­thing else that I ab­so­lutely ad­mire about the Ja­panese apart from their engi­neer­ing bril­liance. I had this re­al­iza­tion dur­ing the “Mo­bil­i­tyscape” press con­fer­ence. At this event, all the big bosses of the five ma­jor Ja­panese car­mak­ers shared the stage and dis­played unity to pro­mote their coun­try’s au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. Yep, Honda chair­man Fu­mi­hiko Ike, Mazda pres­i­dent Masamichi Kogai, Mit­subishi pres­i­dent Tet­suro Aikawa, Nis­san chief com­pet­i­tive of­fi­cer Hiroto Saikawa and Toy­ota pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda joined forces to talk about a com­mon in­ter­est.

I’ve never seen any­thing like that in the Philip­pines, where peo­ple like to up­stage and take ad­van­tage of each other. If we can’t be tech­no­log­i­cally su­pe­rior, at least we should be united, don’t you think?

‘To my young mind then, if it wasn’t man­u­fac­tured in Ja­pan, it wasn’t the best. That sim­ple’

The big bosses of Honda, Mazda, Mit­subishi, Nis­san and Toy­ota share the stage at the Tokyo Mo­tor Show

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