TOKYO, Japan – Ford Japan is doing its best to resume normal operations following the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated large swathes of northern Japan on Friday. All Ford Japan employees were evacuated at around 4:30pm on Friday from the corporate offices in Tokyo, about 300km (180 miles) away from the earthquake’s epicentre.
The Japanese capital made it through the powerful 9.0 quake with relatively minor damage, though communications and transportation infrastructure were widely affected, disabling Tokyo’s extensive train and subway networks on Friday evening. Many Ford employees walked together through the night in darkness in order to make their way home.
“The good news is that we have accounted for everyone at Ford and our dealers, both independent and company dealers,” said Tim Tucker, president of Ford Japan.
“On the surface, Tokyo seems pretty normal, but there is little road traffic and rolling power outages are causing significant challenges to transportation in Tokyo. Many stores are still closed.”
Tokyo will receive intermittent rolling blackouts to conserve power and redirect electricity to the north, and around 75-80 percent of Ford Japan employees were still unable to commute to work on Monday.
The Japanese government has requested that businesses attempt to resume normal operations to support the economy, and Tucker said Ford is trying to do its part.
“Everyone on our team understands that we have to work on re-establishing our operations, but we are also continuing to focus on safety and contingency planning. Our biggest concerns are aftershocks and the nuclear plant issues to the north.”
“It is also expected that many dealers will attempt to open today, notwithstanding transportation and communication issues,” Tucker added. “Fortunately, our dealerships received only superficial damage and many tried to re-open over the weekend, if for no other reason than to clean up and return customers’ vehicles.”
Both Ford’s PDI centre in the port city of Toyohashi and Ford Japan’s Parts Distribution Centre near Tokyo’s Narita airport were unaffected.
President of Ford ASEAN, Peter Fleet, whose regional responsibilities also include Japan, said, “Tim and his leadership team are doing a great job in very challenging circumstances, and making sure that we are doing all that is possible to look out for every member of our team in Japan. Tim is keeping us informed on a regular basis of any developments and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”