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Japan

Intense rain in western Japan shuts down Daihatsu and Mazda plants

Over 100 killed and infrastructure damaged region-wide

A flooded residential area in the western Japanese city of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on July 9.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- The record intense rainfall in western Japan has killed over 100 people as of Monday, mainly in Hiroshima, Ehime and Okayama prefectures. More than 50 are still missing.

The disaster has caused serious damage to key infrastructure in the affected regions, such as highways, railways and power supplies. The impact on business activities is becoming visible. Paralyzed logistics networks across businesses could affect supply chains widely in the country. 

Daihatsu Motor said operations will be suspended at four auto plants including the main one in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, and a factory in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, starting on Monday morning.

Mazda Motor has decided to halt production at its main factory in Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, and a factory in Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, from Monday to Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Kyushu, a Toyota Motor subsidiary in Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, has resumed operations at three factories handling car and auto part manufacturing since Monday morning.

Operations were suspended on Monday at a Teijin plant in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture, that makes polycarbonate resin, after parts of the manufacturing facilities were inundated. The Japanese materials company has said it has yet to decide on the schedule for Tuesday and beyond.

Parts of a plant in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, of Oji Materia, a producer of materials used in cardboard boxes, have been struck by water outages, shutting down facilities.

A plant of precision equipment maker Disco in the same city also suffered water outages.

Some workers were affected by the disaster, and production at the plant has been reduced.

The river near the main office of Asahi Shuzo in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a brewer which makes "Dassai" brand sake, breached its banks, causing damage to the company's main warehouse. Production has been suspended.

The company said that it will likely take several months to fully recover, affecting more than 10% of its annual shipments.

Operations at about 20 convenience stores were suspended at Seven-Eleven Japan, FamilyMart and Lawson on Sunday afternoon. A number of restaurant operators were forced to shut down outlets due to delays in ingredient deliveries as the heavy rain rendered roads impassable.

13 sections of Japan's 12 expressway routes remained closed.

Parcel shippers Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express both said many of their collection points have stopped accepting new delivery orders and collecting rounds to customers in some areas.

Numerous breaches in levees and collapsed bridges have been reported. The Odagawa River banks in Okayama Prefecture have collapsed at at least three points, and 30% of houses in the region are submerged.

According to the Land Ministry, 37 train routes managed by 13 operators including Central Japan Railway, (JR Tokai), were suspended as of early Monday morning, due to collapsed bridges and railways blocked by sediment.

As of 6 a.m. on Monday, about 12,700 households nationwide had lost power, said the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Broken water pipes and other factors rendered about 270,000 households without water, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Nationwide, 93 locations reported record rainfall in three days through Sunday. The downpour has impeded business operations for a prolonged period.

The government on Monday morning held a second meeting of the emergency disaster measures office in Tokyo, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a cross-ministry team to be set up to coordinate efforts to support the lives of affected people.

The number of rescue personnel from the Self-Defense Forces and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency has been increased to 73,000. A number of disaster shelters have been set up in affected regions, accommodating a total of 23,000 evacuees in 15 prefectures as of Sunday evening, according to the FDMA.

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