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The Fujio Cho legacy lecture was created in 2013 as part of UK Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD)’s True Lean Systems program to assist industrial clients to transform their organizations to a True Lean organization by effectively using principles and tools of Toyota Production System (TPS). During the years 1987-1994, Cho and Saito worked together to layout the foundation of the now well-established Toyota-University of Kentucky relationship on R&D, True Lean Systems, and production engineering, housed in IR4TD, the Toyota endowed Institute established in 2007 with the support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the research competitiveness trust fund. In 2019, this collaboration celebrated its 25th anniversary by recognizing True Lean Systems program serving over 30,000 people in eighteen different countries worldwide and 48 states nationally.

The idea of Fujio Cho Legacy Lecture Notes (FCLLN) was suggested to honor his wisdom and vision which are vital to maintain IR4TD/True Lean Systems program. FCLLN is written to provide philosophical and cultural background of TPS and Goroku, which are mentioned in the Fujio Cho legacy lecture. However, the human side of TPS, Hitozukuri, the manufacturing side of TPS, Monozukuri, and their interaction are not easily explained during an hour-long Cho lecture. Therefore, FCLLN plays into that role for attendees of IR4TD/True Lean Systems’ certification, and general audiences who are interested in TPS and are familiar with the concepts of Hitozukuri and Japanese Monozukuri culture. FCLLN covers a total of ten chapters:

  • Chapter I. Introduction
  • Chapter II. Toyota Production System and Goroku
  • Chapter III. TPS and Wisdom
  • Chapter IV. TPS and Empathetic Listening
  • Chapter V. TPS as Unique Product of Japanese Culture
  • Chapter VI. Deductive Science and Inductive TPS
  • Chapter VII. Top-Down Power-Driven System vs. Bottom-up Kaizen System
  • Chapter VIII. Cho Goroku on Service
  • Chapter IX. Eastern Philosophy, Mother Teresa, and TPS
  • Chapter X. Finally, the West and the East came together under the same principle

About the Author(s)

Fujio Cho

Fujio Cho graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo in March 1960 and joined Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in April the same year. He holds honorary Doctorate from University of Kentucky.

In 1984, Fujio Cho was appointed a department general manager in the Logistic Management Division, while concurrently serving as a project general manager in the Production Control Division. He was named a director of TMC in September 1988, and later that year, he became president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc. (now Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK). He returned to Japan in September 1994, and was named a managing director at TMC, and in June 1996 he became a senior managing director. In June 1998, he became an executive vice president and then president in June 1999. In June 2005, he assumed the position of vice chairman of the Board, before becoming chairman in June 2006. He became honorary chairman in June 2013. He then became a senior advisor to the Board in June 2017. He retired in June 2020. His notable awards include Medal with Blue Ribbon, Japan (November 2001) and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (November 2009).

Kozo Saito

Kozo Saito learned Toyota Production System directly from Fujio Cho. Saito is the founding director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD), a Toyota endowed Institute which houses both R&D and True Lean Systems programs.

Saito joined University of Kentucky in 1986 as Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, was promoted to Professor (1993), became the Tennessee Valley Authority (Endowed) Professor in Mechanical Engineering (2001-present). Prior to UK, Saito did a postgraduate study at UCSD (1980-81) and worked at Princeton University (1981-1986) as a Research Associate and Research Staff Member. Saito completed all three of his degrees (B.S. 1975, MS 1977, Ph.D. 1980) at Seikei University, Tokyo, Japan.

Saito is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Chair of the International Scale Modeling Committee, and a former committee member of the National Research Council. He was a lecturer at Nippon Steel Corp., a visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo, had an IPA assignment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was a joint research collaborator with US Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and USDA Forest Service. His research interest include combustion, fire research, scale modeling and Monozukuri.

Publication Date



University of Kentucky Libraries


Lexington, KY


© 2020 Fujio Cho and Kozo Saito

Relevant resources:

Fujio Cho Legacy Lecture Notes