Japanese companies with a foothold in China are delaying their plans to restart operations suspended due to the Lunar New Year holiday in the country, amid the spread of a new strain of coronavirus originating in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei.
But some fear that moves to keep factories closed beyond the end of the holiday period next Sunday, as instructed by Chinese authorities, could disrupt supply chains for a vast array of industries.
On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. decided to keep its four auto assembly plants in China offline until Feb. 9. The company, which also has many auto parts factories in the country, reached the decision based on local authorities’ policies and conditions regarding parts procurement, a public relations official said.
The company will decide whether to reopen the factories on Feb. 10 after monitoring the situation, the official said.
Also Wednesday, Honda Motor Co. began considering whether to push back the reopening of its auto assembly plant in Guangzhou, southern China.
An affiliate of electronics giant NEC Corp. has decided to postpone the restart of its plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, eastern China, to Feb. 9.
In Shanghai, firms such as electronic components maker Kyocera Corp., control system manufacturer Omron Corp. and air conditioner-maker Fujitsu General Ltd. put off resuming operations based on instructions from local authorities. Meiji Co. will halt operations at its confectionery factory until Feb. 9.
Companies that have decided to keep plants shut are finding it difficult to decide when to resume business, with an official at one machinery-maker saying, “We cannot be sure (of when to restart) because instructions from the local government change day-to-day.”
“If the plant closures are prolonged, our parts procurement will be affected,” said NEC Senior Executive Vice President Takayuki Morita at a news conference Wednesday.
“Wuhan is a key transport hub in China, so we are concerned about possible impacts to our supply chain,” said Toshizo Tanaka, executive vice president of camera and office equipment-maker Canon Inc.
Your news needs your support
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.