In the face of hysteria about radiation that drowns out the true death and destruction in Japan, Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn toured the earthquake-damaged Nissan engine plant in Iwaki. Iwaki is some 35 miles from the stricken Fukushima power plant. Right away, Carlos Ghosn had to deny rumors that Nissan would abandon their engine plant. Instead, Ghosn “vowed to use every possible means to rebuild it,” says The Nikkei [sub].
It will be slow going. Ghosn said the plant will “restart some operations” in mid-April. Full scale operation is expected for early June, with “expected” being the operative word.
Ghosn gave about 300 employees and staffers from suppliers a pep talk. They should turn the crisis into an opportunity, Ghosn said, and now is the time when Nissan should show its spirit.
Good spirits are needed. More than 70,000 people in the neighborhood have been evacuated from a 12 mile exclusion zone around the power plant. 130,000 people who live in a 6 mile band beyond have been advised to leave, or, at least to stay indoors. Supplies are running short as trucking firms refuse to make deliveries to the zone. According to Reuters, the Japanese “government has not extended the mandatory evacuation zone but is coming under mounting criticism for not doing so. Experts say an extension may be inevitable.”
The engine plant is not all that is holding Nissan back. Later in the day, Nissan told Reuters that a return to full production in Japan will take “some time. Nissan hopes to manufacture on a “normal process” basis from mid-April. However, Nissan spokesfolk told Reuters that deliveries of some parts may take longer to return to normal.
In the meantime, the disaster claimed another life. A 64-year-old Fukushima farmer hanged himself last week after saying “our vegetables are no good anymore.”