Some earthquake-hit plants in Japan are restarting, but Toyota is suspending 18 production lines

A Murata Manufacturing Co. logo is displayed at CEATEC JAPAN 2017 in Chiba
FILE PHOTO: A Murata Manufacturing Co. logo is pictured at CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

March 18, 2022

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese manufacturers have started restarting production at some plants in the country’s earthquake-hit northeast, but Toyota Motor Corp said it plans to shut down 18 assembly lines for a few days next week amid shortages of parts from suppliers.

On the one hand, the limited damage inflicted by the 7.4 magnitude quake has highlighted Japan’s success in building resilience to the frequent tremors that pound the archipelago.

However, the quake has raised concerns about further disruptions to a pandemic-hit global supply chain for precision components vital to electronics and automotive production, in which Japanese manufacturers play a leading role.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker by sales volume, said it will shut down 18 lines at 11 domestic factories, mostly for three days.

The company had shut down operations at three factories due to the quake and has lost 20,000 units of production due to the disruption. Toyota has already lowered its global production target due to the ongoing chip shortage.

Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd, the world’s leading supplier of ceramic capacitors for smartphones and cars, announced it is resuming production at two out of four factories that have been shut down on Friday.

The other two remain out of service, a spokesman for the Kyoto-based company said, noting that a fire that broke out at a factory that makes chip inductors caused some damage to the equipment.

The company, which also has manufacturing facilities in Malaysia, said it ships from its stock.

Renesas Electronics Corp, which makes nearly a third of the world’s microcontroller chips used in cars, said it has resumed production after being halted at two factories with a partial halt at a third.

All three factories, including the Naka factory where a fire broke out last year, are expected to return to pre-quake capacity by Wednesday, Renesas said.

Power has mostly been restored in the Northeast, which was hit by Japan’s largest earthquake 11 years ago. Power went out in parts of Tokyo for nearly three hours after the latest quake, which killed three and injured 183.

The blackout has forced the disposal of some cold-stored COVID-19 vaccines, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

Technology giant Sony Group Corp is in the process of gradually resuming production at three factories in the earthquake area, a spokesman said.

There is some damage to a plant in Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture that makes laser diodes, but the impact on production is limited, Sony said.

(Reporting by Shinji Kitamura, Tim Kelly, Sam Nussey, Satoshi Sugiyama, and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Edwina Gibbs) Some earthquake-hit plants in Japan are restarting, but Toyota is suspending 18 production lines


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