Quake stalls manufacturing in southern Japan

By Reuters
April 15,2016
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A worker conducts quality checks on Honda Fit vehicles at the Honda Motor Co. plant in Yorii, Saitama prefecture, Japan, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

TOKYO (Reuters) - Manufacturers including Honda Motor <7267.T> and Sony Corp <6758.T> halted production at plants in southwestern Japan on Friday to inspect for any damage from the previous night's earthquake. No major damage was reported.

Honda said it had yet to decide when production would resume at its motorcycle plant around 20 kms (12.4 miles) northwest of the city of Kumamoto, which was shaken by Thursday's quake.

"We're still checking the plant's equipment, but at this point no major damage has been reported," a Honda spokeswoman said.

Sony, which operates a nearby plant producing image sensors for smartphone cameras, said it suspended operations pending inspections. Activity was also halted at plants run by Mitsubishi Electric Corp <6503.T> and Bridgestone Corp <5108.T>.

The companies said they had no initial reports of serious damage.

Toyota Motor <7203.T> said it cancelled Friday shifts at a Lexus assembly plant and two components plants about 150 kms north of Kumamoto as it checked to see if suppliers in the region would be able to continue providing parts.

"If, after a thorough assessment, we determine that the impact on our supply chain is limited enough to allow us to resume production, we will do so at the first available opportunity," a spokesman for the automaker said.

A devastating earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan in March 2011 temporarily knocked out part of Japan's auto supply chain. Some companies have since adjusted the industry's "Just in Time" production philosophy to limit any repeat of that costly disruption.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)