Japan seems so very far away right now, doesn’t it? As news reports of the devastation caused by last week’s earthquake and tsunami continue to come in, we Americans almost can’t help but feel a distance from the events on the other side of the world. In addition to the tragic loss of so many lives, Japan will also suffer significant economic damages from the disaster, which will likely have an impact on many consumer electronic products we home theater enthusiasts import from the country.
Japan is of course a major developer of pretty much any type of CE product we use in our home theaters – from HDTVs to projectors and A/V receivers, and obviously Blu-ray players and discs too. TWICE has been checking in with major CE makers to determine which ones were directly affected by the earthquake. Fortunately, of the reports that have come in so far, companies like Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sony claim to have avoided catastrophic damage or loss of life.
Panasonic Corporation of North America’s Consumer Electronics Company told TWICE that it has three manufacturing plants in northeastern Japan near the epicenter of today’s earthquake but that the buildings are intact and most employees are safe.
Several employees had minor injuries at the three plans, but there were no deaths or severe injuries, according to a Panasonic spokesperson in the U.S.
The three plants, which are located in Sendai, the largest city in the area, and Fukushima had “mostly damaged ceilings, some damage to walls… but the buildings are intact and there were no fires,” the spokesperson said. The three plants manufacture components for digital cameras, optical pickups for Blu-ray and DVD decks and other components, he reported.
Nonetheless, we should expect that this will almost certainly cause considerable setbacks to both the production and shipping of products intended for the North American market. For one thing, ongoing efforts to prevent a meltdown at the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant have left much of the country either without power or at the mercy of rolling blackouts.
So, if you had your eye on some shiny new piece of gear, don’t be surprised to see delays on the availability.
Check with TWICE for further updates as they become available.