Business

Operations suspended at automakers and other firms across western Japan after torrential rain

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Heavy rain and flooding that inundated western parts of the country over the weekend has forced some manufacturers in the region to suspend operations, and impeded usual business activities on Monday.

Panasonic Corp. said one of its factories in Okayama Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas, halted operations due to flooding on its manufacturing floors.

The electronics-maker said it is still unclear whether they will be able to resume usual operations on Tuesday, although the water on the floors had mostly subsided by later on Monday.

“We are still trying to determine whether we can return to normal operations from tomorrow,” Panasonic spokeswoman Kyoko Ishii said Monday, adding that the scale of financial damage from the disaster is still unclear.

Hiroshima-based automaker Mazda Corp. also suspended operations at two factories, in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures, on Monday and Tuesday after it failed to secure auto parts due to crippled delivery networks.

“Public transportation has been disrupted, so our employees cannot come to our factory,” a Mazda spokesman said.

He added there was no reported damage to facilities due to flooding or landslides, which killed more than 100 people across the region. The company is still determining whether it will be able to reboot the factory from Wednesday.

Daihatsu Motor Co., a unit of Toyota Motor Corp., also halted business on the same day at four factories, in Osaka, Shiga, Oita, and Kyoto prefectures, due to insufficient supply of parts. But the automaker said operations at all factories will return to normal on Tuesday.

“We are still working to clarify the whole picture (of the damage caused by the disaster),” a Daihatsu spokesman said.

Meanwhile, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. suspended operations at 20 stores in Hiroshima, Okayama, Ehime and Fukuoka prefectures due to flooded floors and other damage.

A company spokesman said deliveries of food and other supplies have been delayed by up to an hour due to traffic disruptions.

Asahi Shuzo Co., the Yamaguchi Prefecture-based maker of Dassai premium sake, reported via its website Sunday that it had stopped production at its two breweries because flooding caused a power outage.