In January 1959, Honda dropped in by himself at the Yamato Plant and called out Takao Shirai, the head of the Production Engineering Division. Shirai had just resolved an early problem arising with the Super Cub at the end of the previous November, and he had just finished setting up for expanded production at the end of the year. He remembers the occasion:
"I could hardly forget it. It was in the evening of January 19. All of a sudden, I was told, 'You're going to Europe for a while.' I asked what for, and was told, 'Just go. You can figure out a purpose on your own. You also can decide how long you want to stay over there.' That was all he told me, without a word of explanation.