A leveled Fujitsuka, Japan. Source: Google, DigitalglobeBy Clive Young.
New York (March 14, 2011)—Friday’s 8.9 earthquake and resulting 23-foot Tsunami off the coast of Japan have devastated the country and its people. With aftershocks and a nuclear power crisis at hand, the impact of the events on the nation—much less its pro audio industry—are impossible to predict.
According to CNN, the official death toll is nearing 2,000 as of Monday morning and is expected to rise, while more than 3,000 people have been reported missing. A reported 450,000 people are now living in temporary shelters, and more than 1 million households don’t have water. More than 40 aftershocks rating over 6.0 have taken place since Friday, none of which has helped the ongoing nuclear power emergency at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, some 150 miles north of Tokyo.
Readers wishing to contribute to Japan disaster relief funds can donate to numerous organizations, some of which are listed and linked to at the end of this article.
With the state of Japan in such turmoil, the impact of these events on the pro audio industry for the foreseeable future is only starting to be assessed. Despite the number of days since the earthquake, there’s still limited information as how the disaster has affected some of the major pro audio manufacturers with notable Japanese presences.
Monday morning, Sony issued a statement that no employees had sustained “significant injuries” during the earthquake or tsunami, but that it had suspended operations at a number of production sites in response to widespread power outages. Sites include:
·Sony Chemical & Information Device Corporation,
·Tagajyo Plant (Miyagi Prefecture) [Magnetic Tapes, Blu-ray Discs etc.]
·Tome Plant, Nakada/Toyosato Sites (Miyagi Prefecture) [ Optical devices, IC cards etc.]
·Sony Shiroishi Semiconductor Inc. (Miyagi Prefecture) [Semiconductor Lasers etc.]
·Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Koriyama Plant (Fukushima Prefecture) [Lithium Ion Secondary Batteries etc.]
·Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Motomiya Plant (Fukushima Prefecture) [Lithium Ion Secondary Batteries etc.]
·Sony Manufacturing Systems Corporation, Kuki Plant (Saitama Prefecture) [Surface mounting equipment etc.]
·Sony DADC Japan Inc., Ibaraki Facility (Ibaraki Prefecture) [CDs, DVDs etc.]
Unofficial reports from Audio-Technica have it that “everyone is ok” and that the company is unaffected, in part due to the fact that it is based roughly 200 miles from the areas most heavily impacted by the events of last Friday.
In the wake of the earthquake, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems released a statement on Saturday from Tak Nakata, President of Yamaha Corporation of America, who was in Hamamatsu, Japan at the time:
“On behalf of Yamaha, I wish to thank our business partners in the United States for their thoughts and prayers in response to the earthquake that impacted Japan and the Pacific basin last night.”
“As far as we know, no Yamaha employees have been injured as a result of this disaster. Also, there has been no significant damage to our offices or factories. It is still too early to determine if this ongoing situation will affect shipments due to the currently unknown impact on ports, vessels and shipping lanes. We will provide additional information just as soon as it is made available to Yamaha."
“The destruction and damage in Japan is quite massive in cities and coastal towns in Northern Japan. We pray for those individuals and families impacted by this catastrophe.”
ZDnet quoted analyst Jim Handy at Objective Analysis Semiconductor Market Research discussing the effects the disaster would have on semiconductor production; he noted, “Japan is a significant source of chips to support consumer electronics devices. A two-week shutdown would remove from production a sizable share of each of these. It doesn’t take a large production decrease to cause prices to increase dramatically. Objective Analysis anticipates phenomenal price swings and large near-term shortages as a result of this earthquake….Demand will be impacted as well since many electronics manufacturers are in Japan, and their consumption of semiconductors will be halted until earthquake damage is repaired.”
Bringing an installer’s view to Friday's event, noted audio designer/consultant Bob McCarthy, of Alignment and Design, Inc. posted on his blog video of the tsunami hitting a Tokyo Disney Sea audio installation he co-designed, illustrating the impact that the giant wave had on the attraction and its audio systems. The eerily calm voices over the PA informing the crowd about the earthquake in multiple languages attest to the system’s fortitude, but the footage is nonetheless unsettling.
The American Red Cross: Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief
Save the Children: Emergency Relief for Japan Quake
Doctors Without Borders