Being called the “Big Wife” isn’t much fun for the boss


Shigehisa Takada is the CEO and chairman of a family business called Takata, and he’s having a hard time. Takata makes airbags for cars and is facing demands from regulators to replace faulty airbag inflators in millions of vehicles made by many different carmakers.

But that’s just the start of it for poor Shigehisa – he’s been made fun of by his staff. According to reports, the third generation of the family business is often called “O-okusan”, or “big wife” by his managers. Apparently, it’s in reference to the fact that his 74-year-old mother, Akiko, and former Takata executive, still exerts influence at the business.

Further ignominy for Shigehisa is that he’s also been called “the son”, or “Shige-chan”, using the short form of his name and a suffix normally reserved for Japanese children. This appears to be in reference to the fact that Shigehisa only was made chief executive after his father, Juichiro, who built the company into an auto safety giant, died. Shigehisa, 49, it would appear, has yet to move out of his father and mother’s shadows.

More in reference to the airbag scandal, there are now calls for Shigehisa’s resignation. No doubt, Shigehisa is a proud man and wants to prove that he can manage the business out of bad times. He can take some comfort from the experience of fellow boss, Akio Toyoda, the CEO of the carmaker Toyota and the grandson of the founder of the Toyota Motor Corp. Akio looks to be getting Toyota back on track after some tough years, involving recalls of its cars and question marks over the quality of its products.

Back in 2010 there were calls for Akio to resign. He held firm and looks to be in a much stronger position these days.



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