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Japanese manufacturers face further delays in resuming production after quake

Toyota and Honda auto factories that had been shut down by the massive earthquake and tsunami won't reopen until this weekend because of disruption in their parts supply chains. Electronics and silicon wafer makers have also been idled.

March 22, 2011|By Victoria Kim | Los Angeles Times
  • An employee at Honda's plant in Greensburg, Ind., works on a Civic. Honda and Toyota, two of Japan's largest carmakers, have announced delays in production due to supply-line disruptions caused by the country's recent earthquake and tsunami.
An employee at Honda's plant in Greensburg, Ind., works on a Civic.… (Mira Oberman / AFP / Getty…)

The natural disasters that struck Japan's northeast continued to wreak havoc on the nation's economy on Tuesday, with two of the country's largest carmakers announcing further delays in resumption of production at their plants because of continued disruption in parts supplies.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., which were scheduled to resume production at their earthquake-affected plants early this week, said Tuesday that operations would not begin again until the weekend. Toyota had suspended operations at four plants, Honda at three.

Photos: Japan grapples with crisis

Toyota said the new suspension would last until Saturday and Honda said its plants would resume operations Sunday.

For Toyota, the halt in output, which will affect about 140,000 units, marks a record suspension, Kyodo News Agency reported. The effects are likely to be felt domestically for the most part -- the companies' cars sold in the U.S. are largely manufactured in North America.

Electronics maker Sony Corp. also said Tuesday that while manufacturing had restarted at some of its sites, scheduled power outages and shortages of materials and components continued to hamper production at others.

Technophiles may also have reason for concern: Japan's earthquake and tsunami has halted production of a quarter of the world's supply of silicon wafers, used to make semiconductors, which are the crucial components in personal computers, mobile phones and digital music players, according to a report released by a California-based market research firm.

Production has been discontinued at two plants in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami: Shin-Etsu Chemical Co.'s Shirakawa facility and MEMC Electronic Materials' Utsunomiya plant, which together make up 25% of the world's supply, according to IHS iSuppli, headquartered in El Segundo.

The consequences of the disruption will probably be felt around the world because the two companies supplied manufacturers globally, the firm said in its report.

The interruption in production in Japan has the Chinese government concerned about how it will affect trade between the two nations.

A Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman told reporters Tuesday that the two economies were "closely connected," and a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry urged Japan to "release information to the public in a timely, comprehensive and precise manner, which we hope will help other countries make a right judgment of the situation," Kyodo reported.

Photos: Japan grapples with crisis

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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