Latest From Japanese CE Makers On Quake Effects

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New York - Updated reports have begun to come in from Japan from Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Olympus and Toshiba on the aftermath of Friday's horrific earthquake and resulting tsunami.


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.

There was no damage at Panasonic's headquarters in Osaka on the west coast of Japan and its Tokyo offices continue to operate.

When asked about senior executives with Panasonic North America, the spokesperson said that there were employees traveling overseas but that all have been accounted for and are safe.

Toshiba's corporate public relations department in Japan said in an informal statement that there was no damage to its CE facilities or to their employees.

As reported earlier by TWICE Sony said the disaster forced the closure of six factories and stranded hundreds of employees.

According to a Sony spokesperson, headquarters employees in the Tokyo area who were able to walk back home were allowed to do so around 5 p.m. Friday afternoon. Employees commuting from a distant area were allowed to remain in the office overnight.

At the end of the day, approximately 3,000 employees remained in the company's headquarters building.

The spokesperson said a few railways had resumed service in the early evening hours, giving at least some a means of returning home.

"We have offered our biggest meeting space on the second floor (approximately a 350-person capacity) to refugees in Shinagawa district who have no way to go back home for the night," the spokesperson said.

In the North Region (including Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures), six factories were shut down and evacuated, with all employees reportedly safe.

Three of the damaged factories were managed by Sony Chemical & Information Device (SCID), one was run by Sony Shiraishi Semiconductor and two were run by Sony Energy Devices.

The SCID facility manufactures IC cards (Felica cards), magnetic tapes, Blu-ray discs and various devices.

Sony Shiraishi Semiconductor manufactures semiconductor lasers for Blu-ray players and other devices.

Two factories located in Fukushima belonging to Sony Energy Devices, produce lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

Another factory in Miyagi (SCID Tagajo-factory) sustained ground floor flooding from the tsunami, Sony said.

Approximately 1,000 employees at that factory, which also produces Blu-ray discs and magnetic tape, were evacuated to the second and third floors, the company said.

"We are not able to accurately identify the [full extent of the] damage to our factories at this moment," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile Canon and Olympus reported minimal damage.

Canon USA president Joe Adachi said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This is a terrible tragedy, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones. We remain in close contact with Canon Inc., which is based in Tokyo, approximately 200 miles from the epicenter.

"At this time, preliminary reports are that there have been a limited amount of injuries at our Utsunomiya Office, located in Tochigi prefecture, and there has been a limited amount of damage to our facilities. Our colleagues and extended families in Japan are very much in our thoughts and we will support them in any way that we can."

A spokesman for Olympus America reported, "Our colleagues are safe and have reported only minor structural damage in some Olympus facilities located outside of Tokyo. We do not expect that manufacturing of Olympus products will be impacted."

In the U.S., retail reaction was muted. In a statement, Best Buy said it has "been in close contact with our business partners in Japan and wish them the best as they cope with this tragic event." No employees were directly affected by the earthquake, the company said.

Best Buy added that is "standing by, waiting for direction from the Red Cross, on how we might best support the people of Japan as they recover from this disaster ... Our heartfelt sympathy goes to the people of Japan.  Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster."

Elsewhere, a link on Amazon.com's home page takes customers to a microsite where they can make donations to the

American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund

using the e-tailer's Amazon Payments money transfer system.

Costco.com has similarly added a link to the

American Red Cross

on its home page.

Other companies continue to report in, so visit

www.TWICE.com

for further updates.

- Reporting by Greg Tarr, Doug Olenick, Steve Smith and Alan Wolf

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