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Natural disasters

Subaru halts production for 10 days after Typhoon Hagibis

Deadly storm flooded Japanese automaker's suppliers

Typhoon Hagibis caused widespread flooding as surging rivers burst levees, as here in Nagano. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Subaru suspended car production in Japan due to an anticipated shortage of parts, the automaker said Wednesday, as the impact of Typhoon Hagibis on suppliers and logistics infrastructure comes to light.

Subaru halted assembly lines at its two vehicle plants in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo and stopped work at an adjacent engine and transmissions factory Wednesday.

This marked the first production stoppage by a Japanese major manufacturer in the wake of the weekend storm, excluding semifinished goods. 

The automaker aims to resume operations by Oct. 25 and will continue producing parts for overseas markets in the meantime.

Subaru suspended operations Saturday afternoon before the deadly typhoon made landfall in Japan. Its factories suffered no direct damage and had resumed production Monday morning.

But many of its suppliers have been flooded, and the company now expects difficulties sourcing structural components.

Subaru assembles cars at two plants in Gunma Prefecture. Both are halting operations until Oct. 25. (Photo by Naoki Tsukamoto)

Because Hagibis hit a large swath of eastern Japan, many manufacturers are still struggling to get the full picture of the typhoon's impact. Subaru has roughly 8,800 subcontractors across Japan, about 7,800 which are indirect suppliers of suppliers, according to business information company Teikoku Databank.

Other Japanese automakers are returning to business as usual. Honda Motor resumed production on Monday at four plants halted for the typhoon. The company anticipates no impact on operations at this time, despite some damage at indirect suppliers.

Toyota Motor suspended, then resumed, production at three subsidiary factories across Japan, and expects to have all facilities in operation.

Nissan Motor's plants were closed for the weekend, but conducted regular operations on Monday. "We have received reports that some of our parts suppliers suffered damages, but there has been no impact to our production at this time," the company said.

The typhoon also has disrupted Japan's ground transport. Landslides cut off traffic in both directions between the central prefectures of Yamanashi and Nagano on the Chuo Expressway. Recovery is expected to take a week.

Nippon Express and other logistics companies are using alternative routes, but these involve almost double the distance and time.

"What is clear is that the latest typhoon caused more damage" than one in September, said Kengo Sakurada, CEO of insurance provider Sompo Holdings, speaking Wednesday as chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

Sompo expects to pay out 100 billion yen ($919 million) for damage caused by September's typhoon.

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