Toyota Promotes Racial Inclusion in New Commercial for Japan
The ad is set in the year “20XX” and shows a retired gentleman getting behind the wheel of a new self-driving car brought home by his son. The important bit, however, is that the gentleman’s family is mixed rather than fully Japanese.
That might not sound like a big deal to us in the United States, but Japan’s population has been facing a significant decline as Japanese couples have fewer children than ever before; in fact, it’s estimated that by 2050, 40% of the nation’s population will be 65 or older.
Mixed-race couples between Japanese and non-Japanese persons is one of the few demographics that continues to grow; unfortunately, as one of the world’s most homogeneous countries, that has been a tough pill to swallow for Japan, which is still struggling to culturally accept hafu (the term is used to refer to somebody who is biracial).
Within this context, Toyota’s decision to feature a white man and his mixed family in a commercial aimed at Japanese audiences is a major one. It’s clear that despite being white, Japan is the man’s home (he even owned a cute AE86), and that the bulk of his memories and experiences have been made there.
Need a Ride? The 2016 Toyota Corolla is a modern AE86
The ad does show him at the wheel of a fancy autonomous car, but that takes a backseat to what Toyota is really doing here: encouraging its Japanese audience to be more accepting and welcoming of a future it inevitably faces.
And even if you throw all that out of your mind, it’s still quite a nice commercial. See for yourself: