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Japan tsunami: Toyota resumes production

Some improvement for the battered Japanese economy
Japan tsunami cars economy 2011 03 13Enlarge
In a picture taken March 12, 2011, tsunami-damaged vehicles that were parked for export are piled at a port in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images)

A bit of good news today from Japan, at least for the country's struggling economy:

Toyota has resumed production at all of its Japanese plants.

It's the first time since the Mar. 11 quake that the world's largest automaker has done so.

Production levels, though, are running at about half of capacity due to a shortage of auto parts. The magnitude 9.0 quake destroyed several auto plants and Toyota says it's still struggling to locate about 150 different parts.

The 900 workers at Toyota's Miyagi plant — the company's newest in Japan — held a minute of silence for victims before resuming production.

"We will make top-quality cars and deliver them to many customers as early as possible. I believe this will lead to broader reconstruction efforts in Miyagi," Toru Kuzuhara, president of Toyota subsidiary Central Motor Co. Ltd. and operater the Miyagi plant, told the Associated Press.

Japan's quake and tsunami disasters are believed to have left 28,000 people dead or missing. Some 8,400 in Miyagi prefecture alone were lost, according to police there.

As for Toyota, it's unclear when the company will be able to get back to normal levels of production.

Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto told the AP that last month's disasters have caused the company a production loss of 260,000 cars.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/japan-tsunami-toyota-resumes-production