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Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Japan's automakers restart production

AP, TOKYO

More than half of Toyota's shuttered assembly lines will start running again today, and carmakers Mazda and Honda plan to restart production as well, after a key parts supplier damaged by a major earthquake resumed operations yesterday.

Factories of Toyota Motor Corp and other major Japanese automakers have been shut because of a lack of parts following the damage to piston-ring maker Riken Corp's plant in Kashiwazaki, in north-central Japan, near the epicenter of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake on July 16.

Riken restarted production of some auto parts yesterday after workers replaced damaged equipment and restored the factory's gas and water supplies, a company spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

"We resumed production today, although there is a delay in some lines," Riken said in a statement. Production of key parts, including piston rings and seal rings, have nearly returned to normal, the company said.

Toyota said yesterday 20 of its 31 auto assembly lines will be running by today, although later plans were still undecided.

Toyota's 12 factories in Japan have suspended operations since Thursday. The suspension has resulted in an output loss of about 46,000 vehicles, according to Toyota.

Mazda Motor Corp, an affiliate of Ford Motor Corp, was due to start operations yesterday evening at one of two factories in Japan, according to spokeswoman Aya Takahashi. The other factory would resume work today, she said. The company's output loss from the suspension is 4,500 vehicles.

Honda Motor Co also said yesterday that two of its automobile plant and a motorcycle factory will resume production today. Two other auto production plants will remain closed, Honda said.

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