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Toyota assures shareholders of recovery

TOYOTA, Japan -- Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda assured shareholders Friday that Japan's top automaker had recovered from last year's disasters even as power shortages continue to dog the country.

The earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and the flooding in Thailand last year temporarily hobbled production for all the Japanese automakers, but they have since recovered.

“We were able to recover more quickly than we expected,” Toyoda told a packed hall at the automaker's headquarters. “We want to work to revive Japan and bring more smiles to Japan.”

Toyoda also fielded questions underlining nervousness about Japan's electricity supply, stemming from another disaster — the nuclear crisis caused by the meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. All of Japan's reactors are now offline after being shut down for routine safety checks, with imports of oil and gas being used to fuel other generators.

Toyota executive Atsushi Niimi acknowledged the region's utility had asked Toyota to reduce power consumption by 5 percent.

But the company was already working on reductions by switching to more efficient LED lighting, setting air conditioning at 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit), and boosting its ability to generate its own power.

“There is no reason to worry about an electricity supply this summer,” he told a shareholder who asked why the hall was so well lit.

The meeting drew nearly 4,000 people to this central Japanese city named after the automaker. Items on the agenda, including promotion of executives, all passed smoothly with a round of applause.

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People arrive at the Toyota Motor Corp. shareholders meeting at the headquarters of the automaker in Toyota, central Japan, Friday, June 15. The sign at left reads: The venue of the 108th regular shareholders meeting, Toyota Motor Corp. (AP/Kyodo News)

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