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Interview with the Dalai Lama; Interview with Akio Toyoda

Aired March 7, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight the Dalai Lama, on his controversial meeting with Barack Obama.

KING (on camera): How did that meeting go?

(voice-over): World affairs.

(on camera): Where does it stand now between you and the Chinese government?

(voice-over): And private ones, too.

(on camera): You were asked the other day about Tiger Woods, the golfer. You said had not heard of him.

(voice-over): And then worldwide exclusive. Toyota's president and CEO in first interview since taking the blame for safety defects that led to deaths.

AKIO TOYODA, PRESIDENT & CEO, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION: I am deeply sorry for any accident that Toyota drivers have experienced.

KING: Did the company that bears his name cut corners that could that have led to runaway cars?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely appalling, sir.



KING: And now the Dalai Lama. I sat down with over the weekend and talked about any things, including China, Tibet, even Tiger Woods.

We began our discussion with the Dalai Lama's controversial low- key meeting with the president last week.


KING: The Dalai Lama met last week with President Obama. How did that meeting go?

DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: Very good. Of course, when he was back a senator and I didn't (INAUDIBLE) or something.

KING: Right.

DALAI LAMA: I met once and very impressive. Young politician then. Then during election, he telephoned me. Inquired about Tibet. And as soon as he became president, he said we have more contact. Very sympathetic. Last year, although there's chance on this (INAUDIBLE) meeting, but then before -- just before his visit I always felt better not to meet because --

KING: You said that?

DALAI LAMA: Yes. I mean he also said that. He said if you, and I fully agree it's better. Since, he very, very seriously thinking to talk to Chinese leaders, beside the other issue, the other issue although he very much want to talk. At most maybe better not meeting take place at that time. So it was postponed. And this time, despite some difficulties, you see, we had that meeting and a very pleasant one.

KING: What -- Your Holiness, what do you want from him? What do you want from America?

DALAI LAMA: Actually I mentioned my three commitments. Number one commitment, promotional human value in order to create better world, more compassionate world, peaceful world. For that technology, economy, it's not ultimate source of peace.

Real source of peace is inner peace. Inner peace come through a more compassionate heart. So that's my number one commitment. I always say -- wherever I go I always start these things. So I mentioned that.

And on that level we are same human being. I said the same veracity. Also the human being out of six billion human being like that, so it is our common interest, common responsibility, and I mentioned that.

The second, my commitment is promotional religious harmony. I mentioned that, and so we see the force of an agreement or something. I mean he is in very much favor and I hope he also can make, I think, very effective sort of contribution in these three.

And then he brought Tibet to issue. Ever since, you know, 2001, we already have elected political leadership. So in the Tibetan issue, the political sight, and mainly it's a carrying main responsible by the elected person.

So I had some note that he prepared, and of course my full agreement, so then I mentioned, firstly, I would report to him in what are the up-to-date sort of contact with Chinese government.

Then also beside, the refugee community, in free country, so we are carrying various kinds of work for preservation of Tibetan culture, Tibetan Buddhist tradition, like that. And then also I request the help for modern education, Tibetan children, not only outside but also inside Tibet if some scholarship Tibetan youth from Tibet immensely benefit. So these things we discussed.

KING: Was he receptive?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, very receptive. Very receptive. And truly after our meeting, they made the press issue a statement the American administration fully supported my middle way approach. Something like that.

KING: Where does it stand now between you and the Chinese government? Right now. Where are you at?

DALAI LAMA: Now, you know, the Chinese government denying there is a problem.

KING: They deny it?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, they say Tibetan, very happy, prosperity, and much, much better than previous Tibet. But we received information there are some (INAUDIBLE), but culture side or the religious spirit, or all these fields, so much adversity, suppression, control, restriction.

So, for example, it was a few years ago I met one Tibetan who come from Tibet, and one professional person. He told me his own (INAUDIBLE), salary, accommodation and also the education for his children. No worry, everything is good. But then he mentioned but being as a Tibetan, mentally and emotionally, some kind of -- what is it? Feeling?

KING: Pressure.

DALAI LAMA: Pressure. Then when he mentioned that, tear. So that was the Chinese -- some of these hard lined Chinese do not understand.


KING: We'll have more on China and autonomy for Tibet as our exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama continues.


KING: Will there ever be greater autonomy for Tibet? The Dalai Lama admits that China has hardened against him. We spoke about what effect that might have on relations and progress between Tibet and China.


KING: When Americans are asked, what is more important? That Tibet become independent or the United States maintain good relations with China?

It's a quandary. But Americans -- more Americans think that it's important for the United States to maintain good relations are China. Can we do both? DALAI LAMA: Actually, we are not seeking independence. No. We are -- see, that's why we call middle way. We complain the present policy in Tibet. It is actually very much damaging about the Tibetans' religious freedom and also culture heritage and descends and also very bad for environment.

But on the other hand, we also do not want separation from China because the Tibet landlocked country materially is backward. Every Tibetan wants modernized Tibet. So for that reason, remain with the Peoples Republic of China.

It is our own interest as far as materials delivery is concerned. Provided meaningful autonomy sat in the field of culture, education, religion. In these fields, the Tibetans can handle a better way. So in these fields Tibetans should have full sort of authority. So that's we call midway.

So, firstly, we are not seeking independence. So therefore some people among Tibetans and also among our supporters, our friends, also they're a little critical. We are not sort of fighting for independence.

So therefore this is no contradiction. Keeping good relations --

KING: I understand.

DALAI LAMA: -- with the people from China and meantime to support, you see, what we are carrying stock of. So actually -- our middle way approach is to (INAUDIBLE) to bring unity and stability. So if you use common sense, then our approach is the best interest for Peoples Republic of China.

KING: But didn't you recently say that the middle way was failing?

DALAI LAMA: Yes. After the 10th of March crisis in 2008, I publicly expressed now our effort, one aspect of our sort of effort. That is to bring improvement inside Tibet. Now that aspect failed.

But that does not mean complete failure. On the other hand, there are approach brings a lot of support from Chinese intellectuals or writers. And also in many governments now clearly including the United States government and also the Indian government fully support our way of approach.

KING: You left your country 50 years ago. Over 50 years ago. Do you miss it? Do you think of it a lot? What are your feelings?


KING: That's a long time.

DALAI LAMA: Yes. Occasionally I remember my experience of childhood in (INAUDIBLE) and also the summer palace in (INAUDIBLE). Sometimes I remember these things. But otherwise I lost a few tears.

Now major portion of my life spent in India, and my body is supported by Indian rice and Indian doll.


KING: So you don't think of it a lot?

DALAI LAMA: So I don't much sort of concern, but you see, (INAUDIBLE), six million Tibetan people's basic rights and their culture and Tibetan environment. These are the main issue. Now in early '80s when the (INAUDIBLE), the late (INAUDIBLE) was there, his thinking was very liberal, very realistic.

So at that time he offered five-point proposal. That's about my return, about my concern. But at that time we immediately responded to the Chinese government. This is not the issue. The issue is six million Tibetan people's rights. Not me. Not Dalai Lama's issue.


KING: The Dalai Lama has an incredible sphere of influence, which is why he's doing what he can to help the world's most desperate children. That's next.


KING: When the Dalai Lama speaks, people listen, which is why he's doing what he can to help children and call attention to those without access to education, medicine, and the very basics that every child deserves.


KING: Whole Child International, what is that?

DALAI LAMA: Actually, the leader of this Whole Child International organization came to see me some time ago last year and explained about her work. I was very much impressed. Then I accepted her invitation, so now I come here.

So this is extremely important because my number one commitment is to build a healthy world, a compassionate world. So these young children are the future generation. So they cultivate or nurture compassion from -- right from the beginning. It's very, very essential.

Then now this organization is taking special care of these vulnerable children who I felt are like helpless children.

KING: Everywhere?

DALAI LAMA: Everywhere in the organization. So otherwise, you see, these children who lack affection, then these -- there's real danger. Eventually these children become merciless people.

KING: How do you reach them?

DALAI LAMA: So they are there taking care not only just to provide food or shelter and education, but provide a connection. So that's very, very important. So that's, I think, the real way or right way to cultivate affection on the child's mind. So this is, I think, wonderful. I really appreciate it. This is their work.

KING: Do you think it can happen? Do you think it can work?

DALAI LAMA: I don't know what it is carrying this work. I think the last few years some positive results are already there and some of these results are scientifically hard to prove, it's improved.

The children not only body but also mind, also intelligence, all these things. So it is wonderful. Now, my only hope, my only prayer is to spread this work and everywhere, and particularly I mentioned a meeting yesterday morning.

I mentioned some of the country's considered daughter, female, I mean girl. You see, not much use for. So sometimes there is sort of a practice of vengeance the girl.

KING: Terrible.

DALAI LAMA: Terrible, really terrible.

KING: Who does that?

DALAI LAMA: Originally I heard through BBC that one Chinese woman who carries some research in China proper. She had one interview with the BBC reporter, with her. She mentioned a terrible sort of story. So -- and then India also sometimes villagers and farmers, they consider the son is more useful, daughter is not.

And then also, India is -- of course India is now my home, and also I want to describe myself as a messenger of India, because I'm Buddhist. Particularly I consider myself a follower of India's ancient institution Nalanda, institution of Nalanda.

So anyway, but in India some sort of custom is something a little like they call dowry or something. So the daughter sometimes is the --

KING: Do you speak out in India about this?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, yes, in India.


KING: We'll talk about Haiti next.


KING: Welcome back to more with the Dalai Lama. We talked about human suffering, acute in Haiti right now.


(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: As a man of god, a man of principle, a man of spirit, how do you explain to yourself what happened in Haiti?

DALAI LAMA: Very, very sad. Of course, I usually describe myself as a simple Buddhist monk. And --

KING: A simple Buddhist monk?

DALAI LAMA: Yes. I'm one of the six billion human beings, same human being on a fundamental level. So the tragedy in Haiti is really terrible. So almost -- the whole nation collapsed.

So just yesterday I met someone who asked about my feelings, then I told. Now the important is unlike the past, nowadays I think one of the -- I think the indication of civilization of the whole world, like the tsunami sort of tragedy, the rest of the world is immense.

Similarly Haiti's case also the response is very good. Now the resources are available. Now ultimately much depend on people's own sort of determination and confidence. So I mentioned them. I mentioned they're now important to Haitian people. Should think forward, not just worry or sad, but work hard and utilized all these fund properly, then build a new nation, new building, new nation. That's my feeling.

KING: So from bad can come good?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, that's right.

KING: All right. You were asked the other day about Tiger Woods, the golfer. You said you had not heard of him.


KING: He is a Buddhist. He said that unfortunately he left Buddhism and practiced infidelity and he got in a lot of trouble. And you said you thought that fidelity is a discipline. Do you think it's a difficult discipline?

DALAI LAMA: No. Discipline means protection of your own interests. That's one discipline. Another discipline by order that's something different.


DALAI LAMA: Those totalitarian regimes give order, and that's unwanted. But you see the spiritual, moral ethics are self- discipline. That actually -- just like taking care of your own body. A doctor's suggestion. This is a certain food to reduce -- a certain food should sort of stop like that.

KING: Same thing?

DALAI LAMA: That's self-discipline.

KING: How is your health? DALAI LAMA: My health very good. You know, in October 2008 I went through surgery to remove the gallbladder. So I since then I talk when the public talks, in some cases I mentioned among the audience. Some people may have to view the Dalai Lama have healing power, so since then scientifically prove that I don't have no healing power.

But, however, it's very fit, my body.

KING: Despite all you've gone through and been through, do you remain optimistic?

DALAI LAMA: Oh, yes. It is much better.

KING: Why?

DALAI LAMA: Why? Oh, the future is open. And then still we are in this planet. So now I think, one, the practical reason is judging even in the 20th century, I think the later part of the 20th century basically much more healthier than the early part of the century.

Now, for example, I think the comfort of peace, reconciliation and also the concept of love and compassion, I think these are -- and also the environment issue. I think human beings, I think it's better to have all the reality. And I feel in 20th century through a lot of pain, killing, I think some -- according to some experts, the 20th century more than 200 million of people killed through warfare.

So such a painful experience helped humanity thinking more mental. So I'm optimistic.

KING: One other thing. You talk of love. You love the Chinese?

DALAI LAMA: Certainly. We have to practice that. Sometimes you see some of these hard liners of a policy, ruthless policy. Sometimes I got some irritation, but a short moment.

KING: You still love them?

DALAI LAMA: Still yes. I have to make effort to keep love.

KING: Thank you.

DALAI LAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Since I think modern, I think at least around 15 years.

KING: Fifteen years since last we were together.

DALAI LAMA: So you are not much changed, so congratulations.

KING: Nor you, thank you. His Holiness -- I haven't changed? I'm older. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.


KING: Can you rely on Toyota? The head of the automaker is here next with the answer.


KING: Akio Toyoda is the president and CEO of the Toyota Motor Company. He's the grandson of Toyota's founder. He testified before a congressional committee today about defects in Toyota products.

If you've got a question, by the way, send it into our Facebook page, it's or you can tweet us at Kingsthings.

We thank Mr. Toyoda for joining us.

By the way at the hearing today, the interpretation had delays. We have simultaneous interpretation tonight.

Mr. Toyota, by the way, you spoke English well in the opening statement. Why do you prefer that we do it through an interpreter?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, this is because I was given the opportunity to speak at the hearing and I wanted to convey that we are working very hard to gain the public's trust and I wanted to be very accurate and that's why I asked to use interpreters.

KING: So you prefer, obviously, your date of language. Was it a difficult day for you?

TOYODA (through translator): Yes, honestly, I think it was not an easy day. But I tried very hard, and I am not confident to what degree our sincerity was conveyed, but we are working together with the dealers and other customers who support us, our suppliers and other colleagues and our employer -- employees, and they all supported me, so I held on so far.

KING: Mr. Toyoda, would you say you were treated fairly by the congressmen?

TOYODA (through translator): This was my first opportunity to experience the hearings. I'm not sure if it was fair or not, but I would say I wonder to what extent people were able to understand what I was trying to say, and I would like to continue talking to people until they come to understand us.

KING: Do you think -- what do you think your grandfather would have said about all this, Mr. Toyoda? How disappointed do you think he would be?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, my grandfather probably wishes that he is telling me to regain the trust of those customers who are driving our vehicles. You have to take the leadership to work very hard so that we can win back our customers. I'm sure he is really cheering us.

KING: You apologized on behalf of Toyota. One congresswoman -- Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur -- didn't think you showed enough remorse. How sad -- this is hard to put in words maybe. How sad are you over this?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, all the vehicles bear my name, and if the people's trust vis-a-vis the vehicle gets lessons, then that is the same to myself. It is very difficult to express with words, but sometimes people tell me that I'm not explaining enough.

It's unfortunate, but I really would like to continue doing my very best to convey my feelings.

KING: Mr. Toyoda, you offered your condolences to the Saylor family specifically who lost four members when their Toyota accelerated out of control. What do you say to all -- what can you say now to the families directly, many of whom will be watching tonight, who have lost loved ones? What do you say directly to them as we show the Saylor family?

TOYODA (through translator): I would like to really express my most heartfelt sadness that those members of the family have had to lose their lives with a Toyota vehicle, and I would like to pray for them and extend my most heartfelt condolences.

KING: So the pain is obvious. Who -- when we look back, Mr. Toyoda, who is at fault? Where did this start? Was it the engineers? Who made the mistake? In retrospect, where is the blame?

TOYODA (through translator): We at Toyota are trying very hard to make a good product, good vehicles. When you think about what caused this, there may be many factors. When we look back upon what we have been doing, we always said that to make a vehicle means to make people.

This has been said for the past 70 years, and in that regard, perhaps our business grew much faster, outpaced development of our human resources. That's one factor, and another factor is that Toyota is a manufacturing company, but sometimes people said we are manufacturing money, and we must say there may have been a factor or that element within our organization.

Since I became a president last year in July, I have been sending out messages to all our employees, let's make better vehicles so that our customers would be very happy to ride our vehicles, and we would like to maintain this. We really want to go back to these very basics.

KING: Toyota has long been a symbol of Japan's manufacturing might. What is the reaction over there? That's next. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? If so, answer affirmatively.


KING: We're back with Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Company.

You discussed taking responsibility. What do you do, Mr. Toyoda, with that responsibility? More than eight million vehicles have been recalled worldwide. What do you do for your customers now?

TOYODA (through translator): First of all, to our customers, I would like to say that Toyota vehicles are safe. For example, customers are perhaps most concerned about unintended acceleration, and they might be concerned about our electronic throttle control system may have a problem.

But I am here to explain to the American people that our engineers tried to reproduce those problems -- alleged problems -- and they've been working very hard, and as far as their effort goes, we were not able to re-create those malfunctioning, so at this point in time, I would say that our vehicles are safe.

However, depending upon how the vehicles are used, on what kind of a roadway it's driven, and how long it's been used, they may present different behavior phenomenon, so going forward we would like to really sincerely listen to the voices of the customers.

We want to pay more attention to the voices of the customers, and I'm really steering the company so that we can do that going forward, and if we are to encounter such a problem in the future, we should be able to respond to them much more quickly. And I would like to commit to that, and I believe that is my responsibility to implement that. Right now --

KING: Are you --

TOYODA (through translator): Right now I'm the only person who is to do that.

KING: The buck stops with you. Are you saying that in some cases you would put warnings on the cars as to -- in what conditions or where to drive them?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, I believe that the vehicles are made by the roadways in each locale. So it is not that I am to say here that yes, we will put a warning sign here and there. Rather, we really have to become much more attentive and listening to the voices from the customers.

And we want to provide something more convenient, easier to use, much better and higher technical capability, and we would like to strive for that.

KING: Have you come up, Mr. Toyoda, with a solution to the acceleration problem? Do we definitively know why those cars accelerated?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, roughly speaking there are four sort of categories of the cars. As I said earlier, the electronic throttle control's failure is one, and the other one is the way in which the car is driven, and structural of the vehicle, for example, the relation or the location of the axle, pedal, axle and the break pedal. Or there may have been the problems with the parts and components, so I would say roughly those four categories.

The ETC, electronic throttle control, as far as our investigation goes, they did not present any problems, however, unfortunately, in reality there are accidents in the world, and so we would like to work together with various people and continue to pursue what could possibly cause these problems. And other things --

KING: Will the -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

TOYODA (through translator): We are installing the break override system, so in the very unlikely event we should be able to handle that issue.

KING: You are not blaming the driver, though, are you?

TOYODA (through translator): No, not at all.

KING: Will Toyota overcome this crisis, regain its reputation? We'll ask that right after the break.


KING: Back with our remaining moments with Akio Toyoda. Will Toyota -- Mr. Toyoda, will Toyota company pay for victims' funerals and hospital costs and the like?

TOYODA (through translator): That relates to some of the legal matters going forward. We would like to do our utmost efforts.

KING: It would seem that obvious -- anyway, your critics back home say that you didn't act quickly enough to deal with this problem. You should have been involved sooner. A lot of people in Japan are saying that. Are they right? Should -- in retrospect, should you have acted sooner?

TOYODA (through translator): Yes. Looking back at this point in time, I feel that we should have acted much more promptly. When our company has grown so rapidly globally since I became the president, I have assigned the executive vice president to really look at each region so that they can be much closer to each locale, so that they can respond to various needs on the part of the customers of each region.

And at this time this problem was so huge, and I really reflect upon the fact that I should have stepped in myself much sooner, and that may have caused some more concern, or some people may have felt uncomfort or unhappy.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for that.

KING: Mr. Toyoda, frankly, can the Toyota company come back? Can it be what it once was? After this.

TOYODA (through translator): Yes. Right now all our employees are in one. We are now using the safety customer number one. That's our motto. And try to make our company once again strong and really good.

Our biggest purpose is to create good product so that the customers would enjoy using them and be happy with them. Unfortunately, we have to talk about this quality issue with customers and try to remove their concern this time.

But I hope in the future we would be able to carry out many dialogues together with the customers so that we can tell them how to use our vehicles in such a fun way and they can enjoy them in a very safely manner. To that end we would be working very, very hard. So I would like to ask your continued support.

KING: All right. A couple of other things. Do you see any Japan bashing in this?

TOYODA (through translator): Bashing? No. Well, at least through these quality problems we learned a lot. This was a great opportunity for us to stop and look back upon ourselves.

I take it a great opportunity that, you know, this was a great learning experiences for us. So leveraging on these experiences, I hope that we can really come back, make a comeback, and we never thought this was a Japan bashing.

KING: All right. Two other things. You're famous for being publicity shy. Is this difficult for you? Was it hard to appear on this program tonight?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, Larry, I feel really honored that I was able to appear on your program as the number one person of my company. I thought the vehicles, the cars is the main character. So I wanted to stay on the side stage.

But perhaps I should change my idea going forward. And I need to talk to customers more straightforwardly.

KING: Thank you. One other thing. From our Twitter at King's Things, what kind of car do you drive?

TOYODA (through translator): Well, I ride many different cars. Let's say I would drive 200 different vehicles in a year. So it's rather difficult to say which car or what car I ride. I love cars.

KING: Thank you very much, Mr. Toyoda. I hope everything turns around. Thank you very much for being with us.

TOYODA (through translator): Thank you. Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Akio Toyoda, president and CEO, Toyota Motor Company.

Thanks for watching. Time now for the latest news on CNN.