The incredible devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan on March 11 is in some ways incalculable. According to the UN Dispatch, around the northern coastal region of Tohoku, the government reported that over 2,852 buildings were destroyed and more than 40,000 damaged either by earthquakes, tsunami or fire. In Sendai, 2,700 houses have been washed away, and 1,800 houses were destroyed in Fukushima.
The National Police Agency’s assessment reported that 827 roads, 47 bridges and seven railways were damaged.
And yet, despite all of this, it’s incredible to me that the will of the Japanese people has not been broken. Their personal sacrifices, especially around the continuing efforts to avert a disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, should be a lesson to all of us. You never know when you might be called on to make such a significant sacrifice.
Of course, it will take a long time for the Japanese people, and for the world, to recover from this. And it’s heartwarming to learn that so many photo-imaging companies have contributed to assist in the many relief efforts aimed at rebuilding the destruction of property and lives.
As retailers, many of you are also curious as to how this might affect your business going forward. I asked key executives in our industry if they could help answer that question. Below are some of the responses I received.
“This has been a difficult time for the people and manufacturers in Japan, and we at Fujifilm continue to work through the challenges,” said Ray Hosoda, president and CEO of Fujifilm North America Corporation. “Fortunately, no Fujifilm employees were injured, and our six major factories, plus a number of smaller factories, sustained only minimal damage, causing short delays in production of some imaging and electronic imaging products. In particular, the factory responsible for production of the new Fujifilm FinePix X100 digital camera was temporarily shut down. Fujifilm will start supplying the overseas market at the end of April,” he said.
According to Mark Huggins, executive director, Brand Marketing, Olympus America, “With respect to the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, we are able to report that 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 consumer products will be impacted.”
When I first heard of the disaster in Sendai, my thoughts went to my visit of the Nikon Sendai factory in 2001. The people I met there were incredible, diligent professionals, responsible for the assembly of some of Nikon’s state-of-the-art SLRs. I was particularly curious and hopeful about this factory and its people.
“Eight facilities in Northern Japan had operations affected by the devastating events of March 11, 2011, but Nikon has since worked diligently to resume operations,” according to Bo Kajiwara, Nikon Inc.’s director of Marketing. “All Nikon facilities have resumed operations, with the reopening of Sendai Nikon Corporation and Miyagi Nikon Precision Co. on March 30, 2011,” he added. Although there are ongoing concerns due to planned electricity blackouts and potential component shortages from partners, “Nikon is doing everything it can to maximize production during this challenging time and currently plans to release new products as scheduled,” said Kajiwara. He also said that Nikon support organizations will continue to receive repairs and other support requests as usual in all countries.
Kajiwara also wanted to pass on that “everyone at Nikon is very appreciative for the outpouring of support from our partners and customers. For those interested in helping, we recommend donations be directed to the Japanese Red Cross Society at http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/.”
Our good friends at Pentax also wanted to update our readers on their situation. “Fortunately, all Pentax Japan employees are safe,” said Ned Bunnell, president, Pentax Imaging Company. “Some Pentax facilities suffered slight damage and are dealing with power outages, but operations are being restored gradually. While the majority of our digital SLR bodies, lenses and compact cameras are manufactured outside of Japan, we remain uncertain about what long-term impact there will be from the shortage of select components in our products,” he added.
Many of the companies in our industry, as well as their employees, continue to make significant contributions to the relief efforts (see PMDA’s Member Organizations Donate $32M for Japanese Relief Efforts). For example, Bunnell reported that Pentax’s parent company, Hoya Corporation, announced plans to donate 100 million Japanese yen and medical equipment to assist relief and recovery efforts.
Ray Hosoda also outlined some of Fujifilm’s contributions to aid in the relief efforts: “Fujifilm Holdings Corporation has donated 300 million yen ($3.7M) and an additional 470 million yen ($5.7M) worth of relief supplies. In North America, Fujifilm North America companies will make a donation of $100,000 to AmeriCares’ Fujifilm Earthquake Victims Relief Program, and I’m proud to report that Fujifilm North America employees have donated more than $100,000 to AmeriCares and the Canadian Red Cross. Together, we extend heartfelt wishes for the swift recovery and restoration of the affected communities.”
The Japanese people continue their healing and rebuilding process, and our thoughts are with them. More than anything, the images of the strength and resolve of the Japanese people will stay in our hearts forever.