Earthquake Hits Northern Japan. Fate Of Toyota Ohira Plant Unsure

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
earthquake hits northern japan fate of toyota ohira plant unsure

An 8.9 earthquake, the world’s sixth largest, followed by a massive tsunami, rocked the north of Japan. The center is close to Sendai, where Toyota recently opened a new plant. Sendai took the brunt of the quake. Telephone service all over Japan is severely degraded. Via a very spotty cellphone line, I reached Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco, who was standing outside his office building, like most people in Tokyo.

Toyota had no information from or communication with their plant in Ohira near Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Nolasco said. Reuters reports both Toyota assembly plants in the area as closed.

Toyota Boshoku Corp., a Toyota Motor supplier, reports damage at a plant in Miyagi prefecture.

The Tokyo Broadcasting System reports 5 Nissan factories to be closed.

NHK reports that a ceiling collapsed at a Honda Motor plant in Tochigi. Two workers are confirmed dead.

Japanese TV shows pictures of the Sendai airport, completely flooded. The area is bracing for a 30 foot tsunami. Toyota’s Ohira plant is further up in the mountains and should be spared the effects of the tidal wave. As night fell, Sendai was completely blacked out.

Trains and airports are closed in Tokyo. Incoming flights to Narita are rerouted to the U.S. airforce base in Yokota.

Japan’s Jiji Press has a picture of the bent tip of the iconic Tokyo Tower.

Latest dispatch from Toyota, via email from spokesperson Dion Corbett:

TMC has established a company-wide emergency task force to take initial measures.

1. Employees

– Confirmed there have been no injuries at the Tokyo head office, as well as the Higashifuji, Tochigi office, Yamanashi office, and Toyota Motor Tohoku facilities.

– Presently gathering information on Central Motor Corporation and Kanto Auto Works.

2. Production

– All TMC plants have restarted production.

– The employees at manufacturing companies in the Tohoku region, including Toyota Motor Tohoku and Central Motor Corporation, are evacuating to safe areas. The situation is the same in the facilities in Hokkaido as well.

– Currently, we are checking the situation of suppliers.

– Currently nothing has been decided about production plans.

3. Dealers

-There are reports that some dealers have been damaged, however we are still investigating the details.

Note: The Central Motor Corporation and the Kanto Auto Works are part of Toyota, but technically not part of TMC. Hence, TMC plants can restart production while employees at Central Motor evacuate to safe areas. The plant in Ohira near Sendai is a Central Motor Corp. plant.

Late in the evening, we hear that some 70,000 people were evacuated from the Sendai area. On Japanese TV, there are scenes of whole towns in the Myagi prefecture, burning. Some 300 people were found dead in Sendai, killed by the tsunami.

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Mar 11, 2011

    Sad to see such havoc. I hope the loss of life is minimal. Interesting to note how well much of the country's structures withstood the quake; a very visible indicator of the value of high seismic design standards required in Japan. But the water, wow. Now I worry about all the nuclear power plants. Hopefully they all shut down properly and there is no cooling water loss...

  • Mikey Mikey on Mar 11, 2011


    • See 1 previous
    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Mar 11, 2011

      Done. Repeats will result in permanent bans.

  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.