I’ve visited Tokyo and the surrounding areas a number of times and want to express my sympathy to those affected by this tragedy during what can only be described as very painful times. Faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other. Or if you prefer something different (I’m not making this up) someone set up a well-intentioned “Socks for Japan” drive.
I’m not insensitive to the nuclear dangers, but the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami will likely dwarf the damage caused by the problems associated with the nuclear plants, however, the media is now doing a “Charlie Sheen” minute-by-minute obsession with these plants. According to a number of reports (including the more negative HERE) the Japan situation isn’t going to be another Chernobyl. And speaking of Chernobyl, next month marks the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl (April 25, 1986) accident. Back in 2009 I blogged about the Chernobyl Motorcycle Ride and due to recent events in Japan it seems to be getting a lot of hits. Unfortunately. But I’ve digressed.
There will be repercussions in the Worldwide motorcycle community as the economic impact and stories of the prices we pay and heavy losses are just beginning to ratchet up. All the motorcycle manufactures are cooperating with electricity conservation efforts and the rolling blackouts to help in the prioritizing of the relief and recovery of affected areas. For example the motorcycle production facilities at:
Honda: The company reported on some of the more serious damages including the death of a 43-year old male employee at its research and development center in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, as the wall of a cafeteria crumbled. Honda said that more than 30 employees at several facilities in the same prefecture were injured. The company also decided the following:
- As of March 14, all production activities are suspended at the following Honda plants: Sayama Plant at Saitama Factory (Sayama, Saitama), Ogawa Plant (Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun Saitama), Tochigi Factory (Moka, Tochigi), Hamamatsu Factory (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka) and Suzuka Factory (Suzuka, Mie).
- From March 15 through 20, Honda will suspend all production activities at its plants listed above as well as at Kumamoto Factory (Ozu-machi, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto).
- From March 14 through 20, Honda will suspend regular operations at all Honda facilities in the Tochigi area, where damage was more serious, (including Tochigi Factory, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. R&D Center (Tochigi) , Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., etc.), and focus on the recovery of each operation. Honda associates will not come to work during this time.
Yamaha: reported one employee injured and sections of the roads surrounding their Motor Sports facility had collapsed.
Suzuki: shut down all of its plants (including Takatsuka and Toyokawa facilities) and will consider re-establishing operations after March 17th
Bridgestone: reported no serious damage to five of its production facilities in the affected regions, however the company has a number of sites in the Tochigi Prefecture, including the Nasu tire plant. The Nasu facility is the sole motorcycle tire production site for Bridgestone worldwide. The production at these sites was stopped, pending safety evaluations and Bridgestone plans to resume production “based on electricity restrictions and other issues.”
Wild Road Choppers: the owner Souji Abe is located in Sendai City and while he personally is safe the damage to the area where his shop is located is clearly extensive.
Motorcycle Show Cancellations: Osaka Motorcycle Show and the 38th Tokyo Motorcycle Show (March 25)
In addition there is unofficial word about the Japanese Grand Prix which was to be held April 24th at Motegi is being reviewed and dependent on the Mobilityland complex and physical structure may get cancelled. For reference, Motegi is about 110miles from Sendhai (near the epicenter) and Fukishima, where the damaged nuclear reactors are located is about 75miles north of Motegi.
The area of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami produces around 4.1% of the country’s GDP, suggesting that first-round economic effects could be limited, yet at this stage, with the fate of the Fukushima nuclear reactors still unclear, it’s too early to come up with any meaningful estimates of the overall impact to the motorcycle community.
My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and the families.
UPDATE: March 25, 2011 – A couple of weeks after all the destruction in Japan some of the motorcycle manufactures have reopened with limited production. A good report HERE at Power Sport News.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps.