Vol. 1, Issue 4, June 3, 2003
New Toyota Prototype Violates Japanese Constitution
A new sport utility vehicle unveiled Saturday at the Tokyo Auto Show by Toyota is apparently in violation of the postwar Japanese constitution, say observers in Japan.
The 2005 advance prototype of the Toyota Land Crusher was intended to compete with the Humvee line of utility vehicles, which have gained enormous popularity in the United States in the past twelve months. Humvees (High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicles) have been the standard workhorse of the U.S. military for several years.
"They're the ultimate sport utility vehicle," said auto industry analyst Karl Papadopoulos. "At fifteen feet long and over 5,500 pounds, they virtually define American gas-guzzling macho automotive excess. It seems natural that Toyota - which has seen sales of its own lines of sport utility vehicles decline - would want to get into the game."
The problem is that the Humvee, and hence the Land Crusher, are military vehicles. The Japanese Constitution prohibits the development or maintenance of an active military, only a limited defense force.
"This is clearly not a defensive vehicle," said Parliament member Tatsuya Ikeda. "Among other things, it has depleted-uranium armor and a fifty caliber machine gun mounted on top of it. Ten of these things would double our military forces, and China won't like that." Toyota spokesmen responded that Ikeda was referring to the Los Angeles version of the vehicle, and that Land Crushers sold elsewhere would have lighter armor and an automatic pistol in the glove compartment instead of a turret-mounted weapon.
Honda has postponed its unveiling of its own entry in this race, the Disaccord, pending final judgment by the Japanese Parliament.