Made in Mukainada
Mazda turned adversity into opportunity thanks to the creativity and hard working spirit of its people – a spirit that has become synonymous with the company’s location and its place in history.
As a result of the atomic bomb in 1945, Mazda alone lost 119 employees and 335 were injured. If you include families, the numbers multiply gravely. But the subsequent resurrection of Mazda is not simply a dramatic tale of the rebirth of a single company. For the people of Hiroshima, the revival of Mazda is directly linked to the revival of the city itself.
In 1945 Mazda’s factory was located, as it is today, in Mukainada, just a few miles southeast of ‘ground zero’, and largely protected by Mount Hijiyama. As a result, damage to buildings was light and during the post-war period Mazda became Hiroshima’s central hub; its hospital the front line of relief for the injured; its offices shelter for the homeless.
By 1962, Mazda had another hurdle to overcome when the ministry for trade and industry tried to force the largest auto-makers to take over the smaller firms, so they could compete on a global scale. Increased pressure from the government meant Mazda had to push forward with its vehicle development in order to survive independently. With the commitment of employees, such as Kenichi Yamamoto and Kazuo Takata [pictured], Mazda made the leap from local business to international success thanks to the development of the revolutionary rotary engine.
This challenge would be one of many over the years to come, including the recession of the early 1990s. US motoring giant Ford purchased a significant stake in Mazda, and in 1996 Mazda had its first Ford leader in the form of Henry Wallace. Economic journalists saw this as a sign that Mazda was dead, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Utilising Ford’s financial investment and capitalising on the strength of Mazda’s engineering prowess, the Mazda brand was rebuilt and Zoom-Zoom was born. Mazda proved that it and the Mukainada spirit that runs through its people were still very much alive.
Later, global economic woes led to Ford reducing its financial stake but by then hugely successful cars such as the Mazda6 and Mazda3 had brought the company into the 21st century. With exciting new models and technologies in development, the future looks bright.
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