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Toyota chief promises shareholders profits despite pandemic

People enter the venue of a Toyota Motor Corp. general shareholders meeting in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, on June 11, 2020. (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda assured shareholders Thursday that the auto giant will stay in the black for the current business year even if the coronavirus crisis "exceeds the Lehman shock," thanks to years of cost-cutting efforts.

    "We can secure (operating) profit" in fiscal 2020 through next March, Toyoda told shareholders at their annual general meeting at the carmaker's headquarters in Aichi Prefecture. "Undoubtedly Toyota has become stronger," he said.

    The Japanese firm last month expected its group operating profit to fall nearly 80 percent from the previous year to 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion), the lowest in nine years. But it also said rigorous cost reductions will help ease the impact from the pandemic on global sales.

    The automaker has refrained from cutting any jobs. Instead it says it will reduce costs by scrutinizing and improving every aspect of its business.

    Around 360 shareholders took part in Thursday's meeting, considerably less than the record 5,546 last year. The company had asked its stakeholders to vote via the internet or by mail and refrain from attending the gathering to prevent the spread of infection.

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