Japanese Tech Companies Assess Tsunami Damage, Offer Help3:15 PM EST Mon. Mar. 14, 2011
As search and rescue missions continue to dig through the rubble in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, several technology companies are trying to sort out the impact of the disaster on their own companies while also figuring out how they can provide aid to victims.
In a letter Monday to partners and customers, Michael Pietrunti, president and CEO of Kyocera Mita America, confirmed the safety of all of its employees who work in the offices most affected by the disaster. Pietrunti also said that Kyocera Mita's physical infrastructure suffered only minor damage, mostly due to the uncertainty of electrical supplies or logistics.
"True to its culture, Japan is facing this greatest of disasters through an unwavering solidarity and spirit that has been lifted by the outpouring of international concern and encouragement," Pietrunti wrote in the letter.
Kyocera Mita plans to mobilize a U.S.-based relief effort to support "the structural and emotional rebuilding of Japan," he wrote. Details were not immediately available.
"We join in the outpouring of sympathy and support, and commit to do all we can to help our colleagues and the citizens of Japan through this most sad, uncertain and difficult time," Pietrunti wrote.
Meanwhile, other high tech corporations have not been as lucky. Sony has closed down seven manufacturing facilities and other sites that were directly affected by the quake and tsunami. In addition, widespread power outages have led Sony to voluntarily suspend operations at further sites.
"Sony is monitoring the status of each of these sites on an on-going basis, while also considering the most effective recovery measures," the company said in a statement. "No significant injuries have been reported to employees working at any of these sites when the earthquake or tsunami occurred."
Sony's closed sites manfactured Blue-ray discs, lithium ion batteries, CDs, DVDs, semiconductor lasers and more, according to the company.
Canon Group has established an Earthquake Disaster Recovery Task Force led by chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai to begin assessing the damage to that company and begin relief efforts, according to Canon.
The company did not detail facilities impacted by the disaster but noted that schedules for when production may resume have yet to be determined. If operations must be suspended for more than one month, Canon will consider alternate sites as a means of continuing production, the company said in a statement.
The Nikon Group set up an emergency headquarters for disaster control and had numerous plants suffer damage, according to a statement by the company. At least some of Nikon's employees have suffered undetermined injuries, according to the company.
"We are suspending operations there and continuing to evaluate further details of the damage. We are unable to announce how soon the operation will resume due to the regional interruption of life-lines although endeavor for restoration are under the way by some of our maintenance personnel," said the company in the statement.
Next: Epson, Toshiba, Panasonic Assess Damage
Another Japan-based company, Epson, reported no casualties but noted that four of its facilities have been affected, including its Epson Atmix Corp. facilitiy in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, which was hit by a one-meter wave of water.
Three other buildings sustained damage and power outages as a result of the disaster, the company said in a statement. One plant is about 10 miles from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and within the government-mandated evacuation area.
"As yet we do not know when operations will be resumed," the company wrote.
Epson also announced a donation of 100 million yen to assist earthquake victims and said it was cancelling Color Imaging Exhibition 2010 event scheduled for Tokyo March 19-21.
Toshiba did not detail its facility closures but said said it planned to cut electricity consumption by opereating only businesses related to essential services. "Any other measures beyond those taken today will be notified in due course," the company said in a statement. Panasonic also has not detailed how it is affected by the earthquake but the company pledged 300 million yen, 10,000 radio and flashlights each, and 500,000 batteries to aid victims.
Last Friday, several analyst firms speculated that the quake and tsunami could disrupt semiconductor supplies and raise prices.