"Engineers must produce good-quality, reasonably priced products that people want and find useful. Engineers must work to contribute to society through technology. This is an admonition as well as an encouragement to myself." These are the words of Mr. Honda, as quoted in Honda Monthly News No. 13, published in September 1952, in an article entitled "Self-Admonition: The Industrial Sense of Morals." Honda's idea to "contribute to society through technology (one's profession)" lives on in society through his many works.
In October 1970, Honda launched Honda's Safe Driving Promotional Headquarters, a first for the industry. At the time, traffic safety was becoming a big social issue due to the rapid increase in traffic accidents since the late 1960s, as the country became more mobile in its use of cars and motorcycles.
Honda demonstrated that the auto manufacturer's responsibility in making a product to which people entrust their lives did not stop at guaranteeing the safety of the car. After all, that was merely a piece of hardware. Honda took it a step further by providing "software" regarding driving safety, such as how to drive a car properly and make the driving experience more fun.
In 1971, Honda introduced to the world the Honda Techmatic System, a driving-assistance device for people with disabilities. In 1981, the United Nations' International Year of the Disabled, Noriko Tsuji, a victim of thalidomide poisoning who was born with malformed arms, told Honda of her desire to drive a car. Workers in various divisions of Honda were receptive to her wish, and began tinkering with the possibility. They employed the Franz System, a driving-assistance device used i Germany for people with disabled arms, then added some research and improvements to complete the Honda Franz System. At the same time, a partial revision of the Road Traffic Act Enforcement Ordinance was announced. In April 1992 Noriko was able to realize her dream of driving on public roads with a Civic equipped with the Honda Franz System.
The year 1981 was also the one in which Honda's special-treatment subsidiary, Honda Taiyo, was established in the city of Beppu, Oita Prefecture. At this site, people with disabilities make full use of their remaining abilities to produce parts for the company, thus receiving an opportunity to function as productive members of society.
In 1992, Honda R&D Taiyo was established in the same city. In November 1994, the two companies' new plant and company dormitory were completed in Hiji-machi, Oita. Hailed as a model plant where disabled and able-bodied people could at last work together, the facility is today drawing attention throughout Japan and the world.
In 1985, Honda, Kumamoto Prefecture and Matsubashi-cho town combined to establish Kibo-no-Sato Honda ("Honda's Home of Hope") in Matsubashi-cho, Kumarnoto, as a joint venture between the private and public. sectors.
In 1978, the making of "hometown forest" started, in which the company promoted the planting of greenery around its factories.
Professor Akira Miyawaki of Yokohama National University was at the time promoting a movement to create greenery, following the examples of the groves surrounding village shrines. The idea was to create hometown forests to protect the environment. Honda was the first in the private sector to join this movement, committing to a ten year project.
August 5, 1991, was the day Company Founder Soichiro Honda passed away. He was 84 years of age.
During his lifetime Honda had often told people around him, "I have lived my life as an automobile manufacturer. How can I cause serious traffic on the day of my funeral?" His survivors and the company's executive officers respected Honda's wishes not to follow formalities or cause problems for others. It was decided that the company would hold an Orei-no-kai (a thank-you gathering) in place of a formal company funeral.
The Orei-no-kai was held for three days beginning September 5, a month following Honda's death. The first and second floors of the company's head office building in Aoyama were employed as the gathering place. Concurrent gatherings took place at the company's Kumamoto, Suzuka, Hamamatsu, Saitama and Tochigi sites. In all, more than 62,000 people attended the event. People of all ages paid tribute to Honda, and took time to view the display of products and paintings that he had created.