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Manufacturers hampered by Kumamoto quake

Honda assembles motorcycles in Kumamoto.

TOKYO -- The major earthquake that hit southern Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture on Thursday may hinder operations at area manufacturers for some time, despite their efforts to return to normal as soon as possible.

     Many companies are busy gathering information and inspecting production equipment. While some may get to restart operations early next week, others will likely have to wait longer. Semiconductor manufacturers, with their complex production processes, are in the latter group. So are automakers, dependent on supplies of many different parts.

     Renesas Electronics suspended a mainstay plant in the city of Kumamoto right after the temblor struck. No workers were harmed at the plant, which makes automotive and other chips. But when the facility can go back online is unclear.

     Mitsubishi Electric shut down a semiconductor plant in Koshi and a liquid crystal display parts factory in Kikuchi. The schedule for resuming operations at these Kumamoto Prefecture sites remains up in the air.

     A Toyota Motor group plant in Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, went offline Friday morning because of damage to parts suppliers. It has canceled Saturday operations and will restart Monday at the earliest.

     Autoparts maker Aisin Seiki sustained damage at a Kumamoto city subsidiary. "We don't know when we can begin all-out recovery efforts," an official said.

     The impact has spread beyond the Kyushu region, which includes Kumamoto. A Mitsubishi Motors plant in the Okayama Prefecture city of Kurashiki will skip some operations Monday and Tuesday because suppliers in Kumamoto have been affected by the quake.


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