Japan Electronics Companies Escape Quake

Early reports from some of Japan's major electronics and semiconductor manufacturers suggest their factories suffered little damage from a very large earthquake that hit a large area of western Japan Friday afternoon.

The earthquake, which hit at 1:30 p.m. local time, was centered 10 kilometers underground and had a magnitude of 7.3 according to Japan's Meteorological Agency -- larger than the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995 which was 7.2 in magnitude. At a televised press conference Friday afternoon, agency officials said there is a 40 percent possibility of an aftershock with magnitude of more than 6 in the next 24 hours.

Following the earthquake, the Home Affairs Ministry in Tokyo quickly established a task force to gather information, according to Japanese public television broadcaster NHK.

Fujitsu Ltd., which has an LCD (liquid crystal display) factory in Yonago, the city nearest the epicenter, said they have yet to receive a damage report from the factory.

At the company's other factory in the region, a notebook PC plant in Shimane prefecture, production was halted after the quake but lines have resumed operating, said Scott Ikeda, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Fujitsu.

A spokesman at Hitachi Ltd. reported no problems at the company's factories in the region although windows shattered at the Yasuki factory of group company Hitachi Metals.

Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.'s LCD factory in Tottori City was not operating today ahead of a three-day holiday weekend and a visual check of the facility showed no major problems, a company spokesman said.

A spokesman at NEC Corp. said the company had received no reports of problems from the region and that NEC's nearest facility to the epicenter, a data center in Ehime prefecture, was operating normally.

Other companies were not immediately able to provide status reports on their factories in the region.

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