© augusto cabral / Electronics Production | March 09, 2012

Japan one year ago

The anniversary of last year's Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami isn't until Sunday but we thought we'd give ourselves a head start by reflecting on the dramatic events and its impact on the electronics industry.
On March 11 2011, people in Europe woke up to news of a major earthquake in Japan. News continued to float in: an incredible magnitude of 9, a massive tsunami. Tens of thousands were living in the area hardest hit by the 11 meter wall of water rolling over the countryside.

The devastation is great

11th of march 2011 – a day like most others. A busy Japan is preparing for the weekend. Friday afternoon at 2.46 PM local time everything changes. The earthquake just outside the east coast was powerful enough to actually change the length of the day due to a shift of the earth's axis (although to little to be noticed). It measured 8,9 – 8'000 times more powerful than the earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, the month before.

About one hour after the quake a massive wave of water – a tsunami – reached the east coast. Trains were washed away from the rails. Boats sunk or ended up in enormous whirlpools created by the currents. Large areas of land were flooded and devastated. Entire cities were engulfed by the water, fishing boats floating on the streets amidst toppled cars. Houses collapsed or were set ablaze, in Tokyo people became trapped in their offices when all elevators and electricity stopped working. Perhaps most well remembered is the now infamous nuclear plant near Fukushima that took a heavy blow.

A perimeter was established around the plant when it was discovered that the radioactivity could not be contained. Companies and cities were abandoned. It was not until the 16th of December that the plant was declared stable. It will take decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas.

A year has passed. 15'854 are reported dead. 3'000 are still missing. (Numbers according to Japanese embassy as of March 2012). Japan is quickly rebuilding – but it has taken quite some time. The damaged infrastructure and lack of electricity imposed great challenges for the population and companies affected.

For 2012 a growth rate of 2.0% is expected, compared to the negative -0,9% for 2011. The cost for rebuilding is, however, enormous. 213 billion Euro is required over the next 10 years.

Effects on electronics production

Japan is an industrial country, accounting for a substantial portion of electronics production. 2011 figures are not yet available, but those will be substantially affected by the disaster. So let's look at the 2010 figures. (Evertiq's update page on the natural disaster is available here.)

- Japan accounted for almost 14% of all global electronic equipment factory revenue. (This includes manufacturing of all electronic equipment, including computers, consumer electronics devices and communications gear.)

- Japan produced USD 216.6 billion worth of electronic equipment in 2010, compared to USD 1.6 trillion worldwide.

- Japan accounted for 16.5% of global consumer electronics equipment factory revenue.

- The country represented 10.2% of worldwide data processing revenue.

- Japanese suppliers accounted for more than one fifth of global semiconductor production.

- Companies headquartered in Japan generated USD 63.3 billion in microchip revenue (representing 20.8% of the worldwide market). While not all of this actual production is located in Japan a large percentage is produced in manufacturing facilities in Japan.

- DRAM manufacturing in Japan accounts for 10% of the worldwide supply based on wafer production.

- Japanese companies, mainly Toshiba., account for 35% of global NAND flash production in terms of revenue.

- Japanese headquartered companies in 2010 ranked No. 3 in semiconductor production. (Of the 300 semiconductor suppliers tracked worldwide by HIS iSuppli, 39 are based in Japan.)

- Japan in 2010 accounted for 6.2% of the world’s USD 86.3 billion in global production of large-sized LCD panels

- Japan also accounts for 14% of LCD TV panel production.

While this list does not offer a full picture of the magnitude of the disaster, it offers a glimpse. While roads, factories have been rebuilt and debris has been removed - many people are still not able to 'go home'. And in many instances home is no longer what it used to be.
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