Japanese CE giants pledge support for tsunami victims

Japan: A number of electronics companies, including Japanese giants such as Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Panasonic and Sony, have all pledged cash donations and more, even as they struggle to figure out how last week’s tsunami and on-going crisis will impact delivery of products and even R&D. Research, meanwhile, points to the wider macroeconomic effects of the disaster not being as bad as first feared.

Among the announced donations are cash from Sony and Panasonic to the tune of $3.7 million dollars each with a commitment to match donations from employees worldwide. Panasonic will also donate batteries and solar LED lanterns while both companies will offer electronics like radios to those in the devastated regions.

“The Tohoku region is historically important for Sony, with a high concentration of manufacturing sites, and many employees and their families have also been affected by these devastating events,” Sony said.

Panasonic also plans to ramp up production of dry batteries to meet shortage in Japan‘s earthquake-hit areas, which need them to counter severe power outages, the Nikkei Business Daily reported.

The company plans to add work shifts at its Moriguchi plant and also import batteries from its Thai and Indonesian factories, the paper said. The scale of production increase is yet to be determined, it added.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, pledged $6.15 million, a program to match donations made by employees worldwide, and donations of company products and goods, though it did not say exactly what it would provide.

Several other companies pledged $1.2 million, including Advantest, Kyocera, Omron, NEC and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, which said it would also dispatch rescue staff equipped with kits including clothes, blankets and other items for the Red Cross.

The announcement of donations is a ray of light amidst much dark news from Japan. A number of manufacturers have suspended some operations. According to Reuters, Canon has halted production at facilities in Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, and two plants in Ibaraki prefecture, all in northern Japan and they may not be operational this week (the facilities fabricate office equipment and lenses used in audio-visual players).

And Sony has suspended production at seven manufacturing facilities that produce everything from Blu-ray discs to lithium ion batteries due to the recent earthquake. The company has also ceased production at its Sendai Technology Center, due to damages. Some of the other closed facilities produce CDs, DVDs, semiconductor lasers, optical devices, magnetic tapes, and surface mounting equipment.

And Nikon reports that several facilities, and other subsidiaries, as well as its plants suffered damage to some part of the equipment and buildings.

“We are suspending operations there and continuing to evaluate further details of the damage,” the company said in a statement. “We are unable to announce how soon the operation will resume due to the regional interruption of life-lines although endeavour for restoration are under the way by some of our maintenance personnel.”

Wider economic effects

Meanwhile, research last year conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank suggests that “large natural disasters are unlikely to affect long-term economic growth unless they are followed by a radical disruption in the institutional organisation of society.” It points out that only very catastrophic events, with mortality rates in excess of 230 people per million inhabitants seem to have a lasting impact on product per capita. It’s interesting stuff, and there’s a brief abstract here, though there is a caveat in that the report seems to be investigating individual nation-states, and not a global economy facing natural disaster in one location and significant political turmoil in another. With thanks to TV Technology for digging the research up.

Subscribe and Get SVG Europe Newsletters