Japan’s Motorcycle Industry braces for Economic Aftershock

March 14 2011

The fallout from last Friday’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and even more devastating tsunami in the north east coastal area of Japan will be felt for a very long time.


Already labouring under a massive dept and struggling economy, Japan will now have to contend with billions in disaster-related expenditures. The country’s motorcycle industry will also be hard hit by the disaster and has already started to deal with the immediate issues in the aftermath of such terrible destruction.


The initial short-term problem has been coping with a lack of electricity. The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi was particularly hard hit by the disaster and the company has since been struggling to keep at least two of the facility’s reactors from melting down. The loss of generation capacity has resulted in nationwide energy conservation efforts as millions of Japanese are reported to be without power.


Automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda have already suspended operations at their various facilities to allow existing hydro availability to be directed toward recovery efforts.


In a press release from Honda, it was reported that one employee had been killed and thirty others injured as a result of the largest earthquakes in the nation’s history. Honda says that its Kumamoto motorcycle factory in Western Japan will suspend operations from March 15 to 20, and that the company will be donating 300 million Yen (3.6 million CAD) along with 1,000 portable generators toward the relief and recovery efforts.


Yamaha reported the injury of only one employee, and although sections of the roads surrounding their Motor Sports facility operated by Sugo Company had caved in on Friday, none of its facilities were damaged. The company plans to cooperate in the electricity rationing efforts by restricting industrial electricity use, heating in their office facilities, and turning off all non-essential lighting. Yamaha has also asked their employees to save electricity at work and in their homes as much as possible.


Suzuki Motor Corporation shut down all of its plants today, including its Takatsuka and Toyokawa facilities that produce motorcycles, and will only consider re-establishing operations after March 17 once a reassessment of the situation has been made. Suzuki also mentioned in a press release that it was still investigating the condition of its staff and facilities.


Nothing official has been released yet from Kawasaki Heavy Industries.


The disaster has even impacted international motorcycle racing. Dorna Sports, organisers of the MotoGP series, expressed its sympathy to those affected by the tragedy and stated that the decision of whether or not to cancel the Japanese Grand Prix, which was to be held at Motegi on April 24, with the event’s organisers. “Japan is a very important country to this Championship and we are with them during these very painful moments,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna.

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