Diamond-Star: a true joint venture?
Editor: I read with great interest the recent Illinois Issues article by Daniel L. Guillory on Diamond-Star Motors ("The Japanese connection: Diamond-Star on the prairie," July 1989, pp. 11-14).
In explaining Diamond-Star's history, you raise the question of worth regarding the state of Illinois' incentive package to win the plant. More than 40 percent of the financial package Diamond-Star received from the state has funded improvements that directly benefit the community of Bloomington-Normal. This includes water and sewer improvements, the building of new roads and the upgrades of existing roads.
About half of the state funds went to train the Diamond-Star work force, 90 percent of which are Illinois citizens. Previously 40 percent of these people were unemployed. Thanks to this funding, there are now more than 600 newly employed people in central Illinois.
On your point that the cars are more Japanese than American, we must disagree; it is a combination of the best of both. We have matched the world's best technology at Mitsubishi and Chrysler with a skilled American labor force to produce a world-class product. Even the concept cars were developed by both companies. The best ideas were brought together by a joint design team from Chrysler Motors and Mitsubishi Motors. About 60 percent of the automobile's content is comprised of domestic components, some of which are manufactured in Illinois.
Additionally, your point that the day-to-day operations are run by Japanese managers is misleading. While we do have approximately 50 Japanese at the executive level involved in the operations, the real day-to-day "running" is done by the group leaders — all of whom are American residents.
With regard to the team labor structure at Diamond-Star, we firmly believe that it works.
In the final analysis, this a true joint venture: Chrysler Motors owns 50 percent of the plant, as does Mitsubishi Motors. Together they share the costs and profits equally — thus a partnership by any definition.
Response: In view of the recent Japanese acquisitions in New York, California and Texas (one of which involved the parent company of Mitsubishi) and in view of certain remarks published by Shintaro Ishihara (author of The Japan That Can Say No) and by Taizo Watanabe (public information officer for Japan's foreign ministry), I believe that my essay on Diamond-Star Motors maintained the strictest standards of accuracy and objectivity. I stand by the article exactly as written. Daniel L. Guillory
February 1990/Illinois Issues/5