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EDWARD LAPHAM

When Toyoda meets LaHood, who bows to whom?

Edward Lapham is executive editor of Automotive News
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's trip to Japan next week probably won't be as exciting as the one during which President George H. W. Bush barfed in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa at a state dinner in 1992.

I expect LaHood to get along famously with Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda, now that Toyota has seen the error of its ways and is doing everything humanly possible to make amends for bungling the unintended acceleration investigations.

Toyoda and LaHood have scheduled a joint press conference. It probably will be a photo-op where Toyoda presents LaHood with one of those over-sized ceremonial checks in the amount of $16.4 million -- the fine imposed because Toyota hid safety defects from NHTSA.

In a case like that, I wonder what the protocol is on who bows to whom?

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