Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan Nuclear Crisis latest

Nuclear crisis forces firms to shift production from quake-hit region
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A computer assembly line at Fujitsu Ltd.'s factory in Date, Fukushima Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)Plants of Hitachi Ltd. in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
The crisis at the quake-shattered Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is preventing firms from reopening factories and leading some companies to shift production from the region.
Daio Paper Corp. postponed the reopening of a plant of its subsidiary in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, which had been slated for Wednesday.
Iwaki is about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and has since released radioactive material into the atmosphere.
The government has told residents living within a radius of 20 kilometers of the plant to evacuate.
People living between 20 km and 30 km from the plant are being advised to stay indoors.
"(The delay) is a measure to ensure the safety of about 200 employees and their families," a Daio Paper representative said.
The company said it would restart operations at the paper mill but did not know when.
Alpine Electronics Inc., a manufacturer of car navigation systems based in Iwaki, has suspended operations at four factories in the area.
The company said it was unable to repair damage to its plants while the nuclear crisis was continuing.
"No builders are willing to accept the repair work from us because of shortage of gas and concern about possible radiation exposure," a spokesperson said.
Some manufacturers have begun shifting production away from Fukushima Prefecture.
Toto Ltd., the toilet maker based in Kita-Kyushu, said it would move its optical fiber parts production line from a factory in the evacuated area to a group company in Ibaraki Prefecture immediately to the south of Fukushima Prefecture.
Toto said it planned to resume production near Fukushima Prefecture because its workers were based there, but said it was unclear when that would happen.
Fujitsu Ltd. said it would temporarily move production of desktop computers from its factory in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, to a plant in Shimane Prefecture in western Japan.
Machinery and ventilators at the Date factory have been severely damaged.
The heavy machinery maker IHI has shut down an aircraft engine component factory in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture. Part of its ceiling was destroyed and precision machinery was damaged in the earthquake.
Some of Hitachi Ltd.'s plants in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, also suffered extensive damage, with walls and ceilings in some factories collapsing. The company says there is little prospect of resuming operations soon.
Most of Hitachi's plants in the city produce equipment for the power generation industry, the core of the company's business.
Toshiba Corp. also reported some damage to a microchip factory in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, in the north of Japan's main island.
Toshiba said power had been restored to the plant but that confirming whether delicate machinery was functional would take time.
Disruption to the distribution network, with some suppliers paralyzed and transport links in a mess, is also forcing companies to stop production.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s suspension of production at all its assembly plants and group companies' has been extended to Tuesday because of supply issues.
Some of the lines at Fuji Xerox Co.'s factories in Niigata and Mie prefectures have also been at a standstill since Thursday because of the failure of supplies from a contractor in Fukushima Prefecture.
Canon Inc. was forced to close a digital camera factory in Kyushu after similar supply problems.

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