OSAKA – A powerful earthquake that hit Osaka and surrounding areas on Monday affected a number of large businesses, forcing Honda Motor Co., Panasonic Corp. and other well-known manufacturers to suspend production and retailers to close.
The quake, which struck one of Japan’s main manufacturing heartlands, made investors cautious over possible risks, pushing down stock prices in Tokyo.
Among manufacturers, Honda briefly suspended the production line at its Suzuka factory in Mie Prefecture.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. temporarily shut down production at two plants in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, while Daihatsu Motor Co., a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp., halted operations at two plants in Osaka and Kyoto prefectures.
Panasonic stopped operations at two plants in Osaka Prefecture as some workers were unable to make the commute to work, due to traffic disruptions caused by the morning quake that measured magnitude 6.1 and was rated lower 6 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7. At least 29 of its employees had sustained slight injuries, either at home or on the way to work, the electronics maker said. Sharp Corp. confirmed there was no damage to its display panel plant in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. Air conditioner-maker Daikin Industries Ltd. said one of its chemical plants in the prefecture had suspended operations automatically.
Operators of department store chains in the prefecture decided not to open as scheduled or to suspend operations for the time being. The restaurant industry was also affected. Gyudon (beef bowl) provider Yoshinoya temporarily suspended operations at about 40 restaurants, according to its operator Yoshinoya Holdings Co.
Japan Post Co. said parcel and express mail deliveries in Kansai and other regions could be delayed for around half a day.
JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. said a refinery in Osaka Prefecture operated by one of its subsidiaries had suspended production and shipments.
On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Nikkei 225 stock average ended down 171.42 points, or 0.75 percent, from Friday at 22,680.33.
Investors became uneasy over the widening damage caused by the quake, which occurred in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture shortly before 8 a.m., following media reports that some factories in the Kansai region, including Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, had suspended operations. “Although the earthquake is likely to have a limited impact on the Japanese economy, foreign investors refrained from buying Japanese shares after becoming aware of earthquake risks in Japan,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
Osaka-based electronics manufacturers Panasonic and Sharp plunged about 2.7 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, to ¥1,524.50 and ¥2,713, despite no damage so far reported to their plants or other manufacturing facilities.
Refiner JXTG Holdings dropped ¥33, or 4.3 percent, to ¥731, after its group company said it halted production and shipping at an oil refinery in Takaishi, southern Osaka, in addition to a fall in international crude oil prices late last week.
Shares edged down for most railways and utilities companies in the region as they temporarily suspended their services. Mitsubishi Motors, which resumed operations at a factory in Kyoto after a safety inspection, fell ¥10, or 1.1 percent, to ¥872.