Major Japanese manufacturers prepare to restart plants idled by quake, tsunami
Updated 08:27 PM Mar 20, 2011
TOKYO — Sony and Nissan said they are preparing to resume production at some factories as Japanese manufacturers seek to recover from the strongest earthquake on record to jolt the world’s third-largest economy.
Sony plans to resume a plant that makes rechargeable batteries in Tochigi prefecture, northern Japan, from March 22, a spokesman said today. Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, said in a statement it will begin the resumption of operations at six factories tomorrow and some vehicle assembly from March 24.
Scores of Japanese companies have been forced to halt some operations after the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan, claimed more than 8,000 lives. Manufacturers are also facing power outages, disruptions in the supply chain and a strong yen that is undermining the competitiveness of exports.
The battery plant would be Sony’s third factory to resume operations since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake resulted in the electronics maker halting 10 facilities. The company may restart a DVD-manufacturing plant in Ibaraki prefecture within a week, the spokesman said.
Sony, Japan’s largest exporter of consumer electronics, has reopened two other plants in the past week as it tries to minimise production shortfalls caused by the disaster. Four plants in Miyagi prefecture that make products ranging from Blu- ray discs to semiconductor lasers are still closed. Two plants in Fukushima prefecture for rechargeable batteries are also idled, he said.
Nissan’s facilities in Iwaki, located in the same prefecture where Tokyo Electric Power workers are battling to avert a nuclear meltdown, are not getting enough water, electricity and gas to operate, said a Nissan spokesman.
Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, has said it will keep 21 car and components plants closed until March 22.
For Sony, a factory in Tagajo City, Miyagi, where more than 6,000 people live in evacuation centres, suffered the most damage among the company’s facilities, its spokesman said. The plant, which is not receiving any power, is partially covered with rubble and mud, he said.
Like other Japanese businesses, Sony is experiencing blackouts, transportation slowdowns, shortages of materials and suppliers unable to make shipments, Chairman and chief executive officer Howard Stringer wrote in an op-ed column published in the Wall Street Journal on March 18. The company is beginning to recover from the "profound psychic and physical shock to our bodies and our businesses," he wrote.
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