TOKYO — Jim Lentz, head of Toyota's U.S. operations, has been promoted to managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp., becoming only the fourth non-Japanese executive at that level.
Lentz's advancement follows the departure last year of Jim Press, the only foreigner ever to sit on Toyota's board of directors.
The announcement helps quash speculation that Press' defection to Chrysler LLC last year had cooled enthusiasm in Japan for another American in high office.
"We haven't changed our original requirements," Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. "It doesn't matter what the nationality is, as long as we have the right people in the right places."
Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., joins Real Tanguay of Canada and Frenchmen Thierry Dombreval and Didier Leroy in the ranks of Toyota's 50 managing officers.
The position is one step below the board of directors.
Press' appointment to the board was hailed as a sign that Toyota was becoming more international-minded.
The appointments await approval at a June shareholders meeting.