It was one week ago today that japan was rocked by a massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake. As a result of the shift in the Earth’s crust, a massive, 30 foot tsunami was created, which literally washed away much of the Japanese coastline. As a result of the tsunami, Japan is dealing with mass death, property damage, rolling blackouts, and now a mounting nuclear crisis, all of which have no end in sight.
How, while people all over the world aren’t experiencing the disaster first-hand, the economic impact is sure to spread all over the world in the near future.
For photographers, Japan is the heart of the hobby, with mot of the major photo gear manufacturers based in Japan, where many factories are located, too. Besides photo gear, Japan is the source of many of the other high-tech toys we seemingly can’t live without, too. Obviously, with the damage to so,e plants and the rolling blackouts sweeping the nation, it is common sense that production in Japanese factories will be coming to a halt.
Adorama Camera, one of the biggest and most reputable (I highly recommend them) of the online photo retailers (they also have a huge store in New York City) has put together a list of what photo gear manufacturers have been impacted by the compounding disasters and to what extent. Go here for the full version. In a hurry? A very concise summary is below.
Nikon: the D3 series, D700, and F6 producing Sendai plant is closed to damage, operations have been suspended at 3 other facilities.
Canon: Production stopped at 8 Northern Japan facilities
Epson: 1 factory damaged, 3 shut down due to blackouts, Color Imaging Exhibition show canceled
Sony: 10 factories and 2 research centers closed. This is especially bad news for consumers because Sony is the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer electronic goods, ranging from $1,000+ TVs to $10 headphones. There is no telling how much the trickle-down from this could become in the future.
Olympus: photo division factories not affected
Sigma: 2 factories closed due to blackouts
Ricoh: 5 production plants closed
Fuji: 1 factory damaged, production of the hard to get X100 has been halted
Hoya/Pentax: Some facilities damaged, exact damage assessment still in progress
Casio: Operations halted due to blackouts, damage estimates still in progress
Panasonic: Facilities damaged, production of Lumix digital cameras suspended
Tamron: No damage, but blackouts have forced a production halt
Sandisk: No damage, operations back in progress
In addition, the tsunami has damaged many ports and sank dozens of freighters, which would have been carrying products overseas.
Another point not in Adorama’s news article: besides product shortages due to work stoppages and destroyed goods, the impact of Japan’s tragedy could be far more long-lasting than price hikes. In addition to shutting down factories, the quake will have had untold ramifications on companies R&D efforts, which may mean that gear on the drawing board and set for a 2011 release may be delayed for months or, who knows, even into 2012.
In the end, though, Japan is sure to bounce back from its disaster as strong as it was before.. The Japanese people are decent (notice, unlike in New Orleans, there have been no reports of looting), hard-working, resilient, and, thanks to being at the forefront of technological development, are sure to take the lessons learned in this disaster to become better prepared for the next earthquake. Bottom line: unlike in other areas hit by natural disaster, Japan will be quick to recover and get back to business as usual.
Want to help the relief effort? Go here for links that will allow you to donate via the Red Cross, the International Medical Corps, UNICEF, the Mercy Corps, and Save the Children..
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