Mighty Earth Revs Heart of Yamaha Corporation of America: UPDATE 3

UPDATE NO. 3, NOV. 30, 5:30 P.M.: What follows is Yamaha’s response to Update No. 2 (below) from Mighty Earth:

Ms. Karpinski appears to lack understanding of the fact that Yamaha Corporation of America and Yamaha Motor Corporation USA are two entirely separate companies. Either that, or she and Mighty Earth are merely trying to conveniently blur the lines between the two companies in an attempt to pressure Yamaha Corporation of America and to win sympathy from people with no direct knowledge of the issue at hand, as she stated in the Long Beach Signal Tribune today: “Long Beach Mighty Earth’s objective is to get Yamaha Corporation of America’s support to ‘sway the actions and lobby efforts of Yamaha Motors.’”

She won’t, since Yamaha Corporation of America has no businesses that involve the ocean, except perhaps cruise ships, with top musicians using the company’s drums, pianos and commercial audio equipment.

As for her efforts centered on the ocean, Martin Peters at Yamaha Motor Corporation USA sticks by his original statement: “Yamaha does not do anything to promote overfishing; our business and customers depend on healthy fish stocks. The Modern Fish Act ensures scientifically-sound management programs, improved data collection and a renewed plan to manage the resource for the good of the nation. Overall, the Modern Fish Act will result in more fish, not less, and many fisheries managers and biologists agree.

“Conservation is at the heart of every Yamaha pursuit. We are the only outboard manufacturer with a published Code of Ethics by which all Yamaha employees and Pro Anglers abide. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation says that our fish and wildlife belong to all Americans and should be managed in such a way that they will be available forever. Yamaha believes in this model.

“According to the First Amendment, Yamaha and its constituents have every right to voice opinions on policies. Mighty Earth is attempting to silence Yamaha and take away employee’s rights. Their efforts are designed to generate an emotional response from people who have limited knowledge of fisheries policy. Mighty Earth is doing this not only for publicity, but also for the benefit of unidentified funders.”

UPDATE NO. 2, NOV. 30, 3:15 P.M.: And now for the comeback from Mighty Earth:

Lauren Karpinski: Mighty Earth delivered petitions to the Yamaha Corporation of America headquarters today so that Mr. Sumner and his parent company, Yamaha, could address concerns from their customers on the very important issue of overfishing in our oceans. At a time when our oceans face tremendous challenges from plastic pollution to climate change, we cannot allow the one thing we have been doing right– sustainable and profitable fishery management–to be recklessly compromised.

The power and influence of financial investment is enormous and, therefore, as one of the largest shareholders of Yamaha Motors, Yamaha Corporation should prove to their customers that they truly believe in supporting the best sustainability measures and demand that Yamaha Motors stop pushing for any harmful legislation that would undermine years of conservation work. Otherwise, Yamaha Corporation should publicly distance themselves from Yamaha Motors and sell their 34,642,000 shares in the company.

UPDATE NO. 1, NOV. 30, 11:32 A.M.: Here are responses to the original post below from Peter Giles, president of Giles Communications (which represents Yamaha Corporation of America) and Martin Peters, senior manager, Communications and Government Relations, Yamaha Motor Corp. USA.

Peter Giles: Mighty Earth has the wrong address and is showing up at the wrong doorstep, since Yamaha Corporation of America, let alone Yamaha Corporation in Japan, quite simply does NOT make boat motors. For the record, Yamaha Corporation of America is one of the largest subsidiaries of Yamaha Corporation, Japan and offers a full line of award-winning musical instruments, sound reinforcement, commercial installation and home entertainment products to the U.S. market. So while posting the pictures of Yamaha Corporation presidents is what Mighty Earth encouraged you to do, these gentlemen have absolutely nothing to do with the issue raised in your story, and I respectfully ask you to remove their pictures from your publication. On second thought, I ask that you remove the story in its entirety.

If Mighty Earth is interested in discussing the merits of music education, fine musical instruments and great sounding audio gear, Yamaha Corporation of America would gladly have that conversation (spoiler alert: Yamaha is a huge advocate on all counts).

To be clear, Yamaha Corporation of America vehemently maintains that its fine acoustic guitars and electronic AV equipment should never be used in the ocean, and I hope that everyone reading this email shares our belief that this practice would be a bad idea.
The company that does, in fact, sell marine equipment is a totally separate company, with a different president, different management team and corporate mission. Yes, Yamaha Corporation of America and Yamaha Motor Corporation share a similar logo, but one has absolutely no influence over the other.

I have contacted Martin Peters at Yamaha Motor Corporation USA regarding your article. He has informed me that his company, working in conjunction with advocacy groups, fisheries managers and biologists does support the Modern Fish Act, and does so because it is in the best interest of federal fisheries conservation, giving anglers more balanced access to our public federal resources.

Martin Peters: Yamaha does not do anything to promote overfishing; our business and customers depend on healthy fish stocks. The Modern Fish Act ensures scientifically-sound management programs, improved data collection and a renewed plan to manage the resource for the good of the nation. Overall, the Modern Fish Act will result in more fish, not less, and many fisheries managers and biologists agree.

Conservation is at the heart of every Yamaha pursuit. We are the only outboard manufacturer with a published Code of Ethics by which all Yamaha employees and Pro Anglers abide. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation says that our fish and wildlife belong to all Americans and should be managed in such a way that they will be available forever. Yamaha believes in this model.

According to the First Amendment, Yamaha and its constituents have every right to voice opinions on policies. Mighty Earth is attempting to silence Yamaha and take away employee’s rights. Their efforts are designed to generate an emotional response from people who have limited knowledge of fisheries policy. Mighty Earth is doing this not only for publicity, but also for the benefit of unidentified funders.

ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 30, 5:39 A.M.: Remember back to last month when we reported a global environmental organization was targeting Yamaha Corporation of America in Buena Park over ocean pollution because a Yamaha company makes and distributes gasoline-powered boat motors?

And how Yamaha USA’s public relations representative shot back that Mighty Earth and, by extension, the Weekly were confusing two different companies, one involved in musical instruments and another in marine engines?

And how a Mighty Earth rep shot back that the two companies in question are indeed intertwined?

Good times, good times.

Click here to refresh your memories. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

(…)

Now that you have the context, check this out: At 11 a.m. today, Mighty Earth organizers and community volunteers will be dropping off more than 1,000 petitions to–where else?–Yamaha USA’s Buena Park HQ.

Takuya Nakata (courtesy of Yamaha Motor Co.)

As they had done before, and despite the company protests stated here before, “Activists are calling on Yamaha President Takuya Nakata to stop supporting policies that threaten oceans and the delicate marine ecosystems that sustain so much of the planet’s life,” according to Mighty Earth organizers.

Fun fact: Before becoming president in 2013 of Yamaha Corporation Japan, “Tak” Nakata was president of Yamaha Corporation of America. He was succeeded in Buena Park that year by Hitoshi Fukutome.

Fukutome was succeeded in April by Tom Sumner, who became the first non-Japanese Yamaha president, according to the Orange County Business Journal.  

Tom Sumner (courtesy of Yamaha Corp.)

Mighty Earth has been angling for a meeting in Buena Park with Sumner, who the global campaigners want to educate about ways his company can “protect sustainable fisheries and listen to the concerns of their consumers,” according to the group, which disclosed Thursday afternoon, “To date, Mr. Sumner has declined to accept a meeting.”

As for the petitioning, the Buena Park location is not the only Yamaha site getting papered. Petitions are also being delivered to Yamaha locations in New Orleans and Kennesaw, Georgia.

The activists do sound eager to get news watcher eyeballs on the proceedings at 6600 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, noting that “visuals” for media include 1,000+ signed petitions and campaign volunteers with “Yamaha HQ as a backdrop.”

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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