The effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami are likely to be extremely long-lasting and widespread. The quake and tsunami that struck northeast areas of Japan’s island of Honshu have already taken the lives of more than 10,000 people.
The disaster has hit Japan’s car manufacturing industry very hard. Japanese car manufacturers include Toyota, Honda Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Daihatsu, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Many of Japan’s auto makers shut down production partially or totally in the wake of the quake. They now face major hurdles dealing with logistics issues, damaged factories and questions about radiation levels in all products exported from Japan.
Toyota recently announced that it was putting off the launch of its long-anticipated new Prius, an extended wagon-style hybrid vehicle that expands the popular Prius franchise in some markets to meet the needs of drivers who need seven seats. The new Prius was supposed to start shipping at home in April.
Toyota has yet to decide when it actually will launch the new Prius in Japan. In Europe, the Prius+ seven-seat version of the new wagon is due soon. The company says it has not decided yet whether the launches of its international models of the new Prius will be delayed.
Toyota said it would restart manufacturing of the original Prius yesterday. The company is dealing with a shortage of parts as suppliers and logistics networks have been disrupted by the disaster.
In the USA, General Motors was forced to suspend production at one if its domestic plants because it cannot get parts. Nissan said the disruption to parts suppliers would hit the manufacturing of vehicles around the world.
Honda has had to suspend work at its manufacturing facilities. The overall result of all this disruption in the automobile industry is that inventories of both parts and complete cars will weaken. Over the next few months, we are likely to see prices firming up or even rising.
The latest news reports peg the death toll from the double disaster at almost 11,000, with some 10,901 bodies confirmed to have been recovered by emergency workers. The death toll rose by more than 200 in just the last day.
Meanwhile, the number of people on the list of missing has continued to rise, with the latest total hitting 17,649, up from the previous number of 16,574. All told, the total death total from the immediate effects of the earthquake and its ensuing tsunami is already thought possible of reaching nearly 30,000.
The earthquake, which registered a massive 8.9 on the Richter scale, hit Japan on 11 March and was followed shortly by a massive tsunami thought to be as high as 24 metres in some places. This natural disaster has triggered a series of human disasters that will have far-reaching consequences.
Engineers continue to battle fire, smoke, destruction and deadly radiation levels in a bid to stabilise the reactors and spent-fuel ponds at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The facility was critically-damaged when the tsunami wiped out the backup pumps needed to maintain cooling.
In the weeks since the tsunami triggered what may still turn out to be the worst nuclear power disaster in history, global news audiences have watched reactor buildings blow up, smoke and steam rise into the atmosphere and fire fighting pump trucks spraying water high into the air in a vain bid to prevent the nightmare scenario of ‘China syndrome’ as a nuclear reactor fuel core goes into full meltdown.
Japanese and international officials are dealing with existing levels of radioactive materials that already pose a major threat to human health, as well as the need to prevent the Fukushima Daiichi disaster ending up the mother of all Chernobyls.