Businesses across Kansai reeling in aftermath of powerful Typhoon Jebi

Kyodo, Bloomberg

Businesses in Kansai were reeling Wednesday from the impact of a powerful typhoon that devastated the area the previous day, with disruptions hitting tourism operators, stores, theme parks and food supply chains.

Kansai International Airport, a key transport and cargo hub located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay — almost directly in the typhoon’s path — remained shut on Wednesday after Jebi, the strongest tropical cyclone to come ashore in 25 years, flooded its runways and smashed a tanker into the road and rail bridge connecting the airport to the mainland.

The airport is a key cargo hub, particularly for semiconductor parts — the biggest export by category. Parts suppliers in the region said they were examining their options.

“If Kansai airport were to remain closed for a week or two, that would have an impact on our exports, so we’d have to consider using other airports,” said Hiroshi Shimizu, a spokesman for Mitsubishi Materials Corp., which exports materials for silicon wafers from Kansai.

Toshiba Memory Corp. and Screen Holdings Co. also said they would consider alternative export routes.

Travel agency JTB Corp. canceled tours scheduled to depart from Kansai — the country’s third-busiest airport — on Wednesday, and said it would continue to monitor the situation and decide whether to restart them on Thursday or later.

KNT Kansai Co. also canceled tours departing from the airport on Wednesday, with a company official saying “the impact of the closure of the airport is big.”

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka remained closed Wednesday to allow for cleaning and repair work. Gardens were damaged and benches in the park were toppled by the strong winds.

USJ has been shut since Tuesday, marking the first time it has been closed for two straight days since it first opened in March 2001. Any damage to rides and attractions had yet to be determined but the operator is planning to reopen the park Thursday.

Department store operator Takashimaya Co. closed one of its Kyoto outlets for the second straight day Wednesday to allow for repairs to be carried out on a glass skylight that was broken by the wild weather.

In the restaurant industry, fast food chain Yoshinoya Co. temporarily suspended operations at some 40 restaurants in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures due partly to power blackouts.

At Harima-Kyowa Co., a Hyogo-based wholesale company that trades in daily goods, part of the roof and a wall at its distribution center in Osaka Prefecture were damaged causing water to leak inside. The company said some products were water-damaged and cannot be shipped.