By on March 14, 2011

Japan’s industrial output suffered major damage after one of the world’s strongest earthquakes, followed by an unprecedented tsunami hit Japan last week. Global supply chains are disrupted.

This is today’s rundown on auto plant closures.

  • Toyota said in an email message: “We are placing priority on supporting the relief efforts in the regions affected and ensuring that our team members, the employees at subsidiary vehicle manufacturers and at our suppliers—and all their respective family members—are safe. To that end, we are halting production at all plants in Japan (including subsidiary vehicle manufacturers) from March 14 through March 16.” According to Automotive News [sub], ” The suspension will result in a production cut of 40,000 units.
  • Honda told Reuters today that it will suspend all production in Japan “at least until March 20.” following Friday’s massive earthquake in northeastern Japan. According to Automotive News [sub], “Honda has 113 suppliers in the quake zone and still can’t get in touch with 44 of them.” Honda’s UK plant in Swindon reports no immediate impact, but is monitoring the parts supply closely. An emergency coordination center has been set up in Swindon.
  • Nissan will suspend operations at its Tochigi and Iwaki plants at least until March 18, Reuters says. Tochigi is northwest of Tokyo, Iwaki is in in the hard hit Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan. Operations at Nissan plants in Oppama, Kyushu and Yokohama, as well as Nissan Shatai Co, will not resume until March 16.
  • Isuzu will keep its plants closed through Friday, Japanese TV reports.
  • Mitsubishi wants to re-open all three of its domestic auto plants on Wednesday, but it has yet to decide whether the production lines will be able to run the following day, The Nikkei [sub] says.
  • Suzuki halted operations Monday at its six factories in Japan. Suzuki said today it will extend the closure on Tuesday and Wednesday, says The Nikkei [sub].
  • Mazda has decided to suspend production at its Hiroshima and Hofu plants from the night shift on March 14 through to the night shift on March 16, 2011. “Mazda will announce any further production changes for March 17 onward as soon as a decision is made,” a company release says.

Looking at the status of the power plants, production will likely be disrupted for longer. The northeast coast ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were so severely damaged by Friday’s disaster that they were not expected to return to operation for months, if not years, Reuters says. These are medium-sized facilities that handled mostly containers. The port closure is expected to cost Japan more than $3.4 billion in lost seaborne trade each day.

Tokyo and all ports south of Japan’s capital are operating normally.

“Overseas production could be affected as well if shutdowns become prolonged, as core components such as engines and transmissions are supplied to overseas vehicle factories from Japan,” predicted Kohei Takahashi, an auto analyst with J.P. Morgan Securities in Tokyo.

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25 Comments on “Japan’s Industrial Output Suffers Major Damage...”

  • avatar

    And this from a Mazda press release:
    ” . . .  Mazda has decided to suspend production at its Hiroshima and Hofu plants from the night shift on March 14 through to the night shift on March 16, 2011.
    Mazda will announce any further production changes for March 17 onward as soon as a decision is made.”

  • avatar

    Japan seemingly is taking a deep breath after this disaster and will “reset” as things begin to get straightened out. I wonder how damaged/wrecked cars and other goods near the nuclear facilities will be handled if they are found to be somewhat radio-active if the fuel rods are not able to be controlled, if that is even possible. Are objects exposed to radiation contaminated? If so, then what? I certainly hope things don’t get that far out of hand for everyone’s sake, including those outside Japan. It’s really too bad we can’t come up with a simpler, cheaper, non-polluting, less dangerous and more reliable way to boil water to make steam to run turbines that generate electricity. At least not yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan Not to get “political” but a little perspective on nuclear power.  I actively seek all POV.  (I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve read pro and con about that other “hot button” issue, global warming.)

    • 0 avatar

      Great article, Dan. Thanks.
      It’s really too bad we can’t come up with a simpler, cheaper, non-polluting, less dangerous and more reliable way to boil water to make steam to run turbines that generate electricity
      Fingers crossed for cold fusion in our lifetime!

    • 0 avatar

      Doggone it, Dan, you’ve done it again! It sure is nice to have another voice of reason on here. Of course, no serious leakage has occurred and hopefully will not. The issue with nukes is the potential for such long-term damage that is so dangerous to deal with. My cousin was a nuclear engineer at the Oak Ridge facility and years ago we had a discussion about whether nuclear power and the spent fuel rods were as dangerous as was publicly hooted and hollered about. He said simply, no. IF proper safeguards were put in place AND properly carried out, the danger was minimal. Chernobyl has the dubious honor of being the poster boy as to why nuclear power shouldn’t be an option, but in the land of Trabants in that era, that’s not saying much. In Japan, the days ahead will give us a clearer picture. Perspective is good. But that’s what good teachers do, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Oh lord now you made me think of that awful movie staring Keanu Reeves, “Chain Reaction.”  I saw it in college in a movie theater crowded with college kids and we were all laughing at parts of the movie that the director and the script writer never intended to be funny.

    • 0 avatar

      Read through the Slate articles comments and note that many fall for the common fallacy that there are a few radioactive elements  and everything else is nonradioactive.  There is an ORNL report that detailed measurements of radioactivity in coal combustion products. Here’s a more recent article.
      Others have noted that Wikipedia is often a lousy source for anything with political overtones. But their entry on milliSieverts-mS (radiation dose equivalent measure) isn’t bad. The plant worker who was irradiated got 100mS. A CAT scan will give you from 10 to 25. The CVN Reagan went through a radioactive plume. They got as much radiation as would be normal for a month. That would be 0.25 mS.
      There are 400000 Japanese who are, without preparation and supplies, winter camping. They almost certainly have inadequate food, water and sanitation. The potential nuke problems bear watching, but this is a real here and now problem that should have a much higher priority. And a higher priority than industrial production, too.

    • 0 avatar

      @ chuckR,
      link from your post states that Chernobyl killed 4050 people. That is total BS. Till this day many people are dying from various forms of cancer, that were caused by Chernobyl. I used to live in Ukraine and have watched numerous documentaries regarding Chernobyl tragedy. I have a friend who used to work at a meat processing plant. He told me that they had orders from the above (we’re talking Soviet time) to mix radiation infected meat with regular and then distribute it to the stores, day cares, schools, etc. That makes one wonder if same happened with milk, eggs, etc. That would be indirect exposure. What about all the people in Kiev that were forced to march for May Day and people in Belarus where radioactive cloud went?

  • avatar

    This disaster obviously has huge implications for the people of Japan both in the short term and in the long term. This could truly be a nation-changing event, and who knows where Japan will be when all this is finally brought under some semblance of control. The mind literally boggles…

  • avatar

    Everybody: Please keep things in perspective. Thousands of dead bodies are being collected at the beaches. Whole towns are missing. The death toll most likely is in the tens of thousands.
    There is currently no reason whatsoever to be concerned about a little radiation. I was in Europe during Chernobyl and everything was radiating. Everything except France, where they simply did not measure. This is no Chernobyl.
    Worrying about objects from Japan that might have been irradiated frankly is nuts. Radiation is not contagious. You wash it off and it is fine. A lot of things we touch and eat have been exposed to radiation during manufacture, for instance to kill microbes. As long as you don’t eat or breathe radioactive dirt, you are fine. I don’t know how much radioactive dirt I did breathe and eat during and after Chernobyl, and I’m still around.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe we are keeping things in perspective to this particular thread. Thanks for informing us as to the effects of radiation to inanimate objects. No, this is not Chernobyl, but it’s not over yet and hopefully it won’t get any worse. As to the mounting death toll, well, that is not lost on me, for sure, but I am increasingly horrified by what I see and hear on the news and from your reporting. It is much appreciated that you keep your reports streaming in.

    • 0 avatar

      ah that explains why you writing in such a glowing fashion. seriously though Bertel, thanks for the insight and keeping things in balance. while I must admit to being no fan of Japanese business practices, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan during this enormous crisis.

    • 0 avatar

      The immediate, short term impacts are horrific enough in themselves, but in my own reference to the long-term impacts, I was thinking more at the level of infrastructure, energy production, and so on (e.g., transportation, restrictions on energy use, etc.), and the effects these things might have on Japan’s economic competitiveness (in the automobile and other industries). It’s difficult to know just how profound these effects might be, and maybe this is not the time to be speculating about this stuff, but the scale of the damage brings a lot of things to mind right now that are difficult to get a hold upon. Maybe it’s best for now to just leave it at that.

  • avatar

    Japan is one of the most prepared nations for the disaster it suffered.  We don’t even know the total magnitude of the damage and cost of life and won’t know for weeks.  It just shows the power of nature and how much we think we can prepare it is never enough for the big one.  I’m certain that lessons learned here will be applied to future construction and power plant disaster recovery and management.  My thoughts and hopes are out for them and a speedy recovery.

  • avatar

    Will Japan’s factories have sufficient electrical power to re-open on schedule?

    • 0 avatar
      Sgt Beavis

      I think that will be the real question.  Right now Japan is having rolling blackouts despite the fact that much of the manufacturing capacity around Tokyo is shutdown.  Part of this is due to damage to power lines from power plants but a good amount of this will be due to the nuclear plants being shutdown and several reactors being permanently lost.

    • 0 avatar

      Power will be a huge problem.

    • 0 avatar

      Russia is providing more coal and gas to help but I guess it will not be enough to offset the losses.

  • avatar

    If atmospherically-released radiation is headed your way remember the inverse-square law  and let it guide thee as you make preparations.
    Shielding also but keeping the particles carrying radiated materiel away from your body is important, kids.
    Time is also your friend thanks to half-life for radiation-types that do have short half-lives.
    Also. pray for rain  to wash contaminates out of the air and flush them and already-settled radiation down the sewers and away from thee.
    The settling of contaminants into water, the deeper the better is of immense assistance, generally.
    If severe enough (radiation level of approaching plume) expect a waiting period of longer duration. Use canned good foodstuffs as part of your shielding that will also provide food during the wait.
    Crawl the Web for much more possibly helpful info.
    And, yes, I was the divisional damage control petty officer and underwent intensive NBC training along with intensive training before and after.
    Heck, the old man was responsible for it at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory of chief of Hazards Control back in the 1960s.
    He taught me well (blush).
    Prior proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance.
    Good luck to Japan and all of thee IF escaped radioactivity heads thine way.

    • 0 avatar

      “Also. pray for rain  to wash contaminates out of the air and flush them and already-settled radiation down the sewers and away from thee.”

      That’s what I was thinking for about 5 minutes, then it struck me that tehre are probably hundreds of thousands of people trying to survive without electricity, adequate, adequate water, or adequate shelter.  Rain/snow is not something for which I will be praying.

      Based on the reports of short term spikes in radioactivity and the presumed causes fro those spikes as well as reports regarding the current condition of the containment vessels, I would guess that the radiation that is “leaking” at this time is heavy water (dueterium and tritium oxide), in the form of steam, which isn’t even close to the disaster that was Chernobyl, where radioactive fuel was spewed into the atmosphere.  The materials at Cherynoble produce a much higher energy radiation and possess half-lives measured in hundreds of years rather than days.

  • avatar

    This article describes what is going on in the reactors quite simply:

    I would worry more about those killed or injured by the quake and tsunami than the potential for a core melt and radiation leak.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Certain media interests will always try to sensationalize the truth.
    If you want the literal nuts and bolts of the reactors, here it is (hopefully)…
    As Bertel mentioned, this will definitely not be anywhere near the level of a Chernobyl.

  • avatar

    Here is what I am having trouble figuring out: The nuclear plants lost cooling capacity because of a lack of electric power to run coolant pumps. How is it that a plant whose purpose is to produce electric power is unable to access that same electric power under emergency conditions…that is, to shove itself to the head of the line?

    • 0 avatar

      When an earthquake is sensed, the plant shuts down, no power is created,
      The fuel rods need days or weeks to decay, hence they need to be cooled. Even spent fuel needs to be cooled.
      The power was out, diesel generators came on-line.
      The generators were wiped out by the Tsunami.
      Back-up batteries ran down.
      Generators were brought in, but were the wrong ones.

  • avatar

    Thanks for keeping us informed. Thanks for keeping things straight.
    Still hoping the best…

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