Some quake-hit Japanese factories restart, but Toyota suspends 18 assembly lines

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

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese manufacturers have started restarting production at some factories in the earthquake-hit northeast of the country, but Toyota Motor Corp said it planned to idle 18 assembly lines for a few days next week due to a shortage of parts from suppliers.

On the one hand, the limited damage caused by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake highlighted Japan’s success in building up its resilience to the frequent tremors that rock the archipelago.

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

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker by sales volume, said it would idle all 18 lines at 11 domestic plants, mostly for three days.

It had suspended operations at three factories due to the earthquake and sees production lost by 20,000 units due to shutdowns. Toyota has already cut its global production target due to the continued shortage of chips.

Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd, the world’s largest supplier of ceramic capacitors used in smartphones and cars, said it was resuming production on Friday at two of four factories that had been idle.

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 produces chip inductors caused damage to the equipment.

The company, which also has production facilities in Malaysia, said it was shipping from stock.

Renesas Electronics Corp, which makes nearly a third of the microcontroller chips used in cars globally, said it had restarted production after halting it at two plants with a partial shutdown at a third.

The three plants, including the Naka plant where a fire broke out last year, are expected to be back to pre-quake capacity by Wednesday, Renesas said.

Power has mostly been restored in the northeast, which suffered Japan’s biggest earthquake 11 years ago. Neighborhoods in Tokyo lost power for nearly three hours after the latest earthquake, in which three people died and 183 were injured.

The blackout forced the disposal of some cool-kept COVID-19 vaccines, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

Tech conglomerate Sony Group Corp is gradually restarting production at three factories in the quake-hit area, a spokesperson said.

There is damage at a facility in Shiroishi, Miyagi prefecture, which produces 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)

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