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7.3 quake shakes Japan's IC, auto industries

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:japan? earthquake? foundry production?

Japanese southern island, Kyushu was struck by a series of earthquakes as high as 7.3 magnitude on the Richter scale starting last Thursday . Japanese electronics and automotive manufacturers, as a result, attempt to assess damages caused to their manufacturing facilities. Many major companies in the region were forced to close factories.

The initial tremor, measured above magnitude 6, struck last Thursday night 11 km (7 miles) east of the city of Kumamoto, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The second deadly quake, more powerful than the first, hit the area early Saturday morning.

The earthquakes, killing at least 41 people, reflected the vulnerability of Japanese companies to supply chain disruptions caused by natural disasters.

Kumamoto map

Figure 1: The Kumamoto region is one of Japan's most important manufacturing hubs, housing giants such as Renesas, Sony and Mitsubishi electric.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK showed TV footage of fires, power outages, collapsed bridges, a severed road and gaping holes in the earth.

The Kumamoto region is known as an important manufacturing hub. Among semiconductor companies with plants in the region are Renesas, Sony and Mitsubishi Electric.

Among companies affected in the automotive industry are Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

Toyota Motors Sunday suspended most car production across Japan after a crucial part of its supply chain was cut by the two earthquakes. In the Kyushu quake zone, a body parts factory and die-casting plant, both operated by Toyota group supplier Aisin Seiki Co., were damaged in the magnitude-6.2 quake Thursday.

EE Times Japan reported that chip vendors' fabs in the Kumamoto region halted their production lines Thursday evening. They have been unable to make progress in damage assessment because of aftershocks.

Kyushu fabs

Figure 2: Semiconductor companies in Kyushu. (Source: Kyushu Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

Renesas's Kawashiri Fab in Kumamoto City, City was hit by the quake on Saturday. The fab is engaged in front-end chip production using 8-inch wafers, mainly for microcontrollers used in automotive. The company issued a statement saying, "We terminated operations immediately after the earthquake and are currently assessing our status."

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