Before the alliance between Renault and Nissan Motor, I had been to Japan only once in my life. It was in 1984, and I was still with Michelin. I had gone on a business trip to visit Komatsu, but my stay lasted for only two days -- too short to get a real impression.
I visited Japan a few other times during the partnership negotiations with Nissan, but my true relationship with the country began when my family moved there in May 1999. I arrived in Japan a month before the rest of my family and initially lived in a hotel. The Nissan headquarters were then in a prime location in Ginza, near the center of Tokyo. My first office as chief operating officer was a renovated conference room a few doors down from the then-CEO Hanawa-san. My executive assistant, Takahashi-san, was extremely efficient, expertly managing my appointments so that I could work at a brisk pace.