Tech industry will be affected by mega Japanese earthquake

The earthquake in Japan has had a domino effect on technology as fabs and factories are damaged or forced to close following the aftermath. Scientists are warning a tsunami is headed towards many other countries bordering the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.

The quake, which hit Japan in the early hours of this morning measured  8.9 and bought with it a tsumani that is spreading across the Pacific. Together the earthquake has already shut down nuclear power plants and oil refineries, while a major steel plant was on fire.

Parts of the country are also without power and landslides have hit, while roads have been damaged,  meaning that it will be hard to get materials in and out in the near future.

It is more than likely that the tech industry will be affected with semiconductor factories based in North Japan while the tsunami is headed towards Australia too, scientists say.

There are also major manufacturing industrial zones and electronics plants in the Miyagi prefecture and surrounding areas.

Back in August 2009 an earthquake temporarily devastated the tech industry. The internet was down and factories were forced to close for days. One example was Corning’s LCD glass manufacturing facility in Shizuoka, which came to a halt following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake off the Japanese coast.  This is an earthquake on an altogether larger scale.

*Update News is pouring in about more technology plant closures. Sony has reportedly stopped output at plants and evacuated six factories in the Northeastern part of Japan. Yasuhiro Okada, a spokesman for the company, told Business Week that Sony is now looking at the  affects of the power outages and damage to its facilities.

It’s likely that Blu-ray discs, magnetic heads and batteries will be affected as these were the main line of production at the factories. Canon however has reported that it’s had a lucky escape. It hasn’t suffered damage to plants, and it says production will not be stopped.

*Google has set up a page to help people in Japan find friends and relatives who may have been caught up in the tsunami.

The Person Finder service is available in English and in Japanese and lets people post messages of the person they are looking for or any information they have. Developers can also embed the tool on websites.

*Stocks are dropping. The Nikkei has slipped as a result of the earthquake with stocks falling nearly five percent.

Despite that there are exchanges that are still open, and Reuters reports that the yen rose due to predictions that Japanese investors would bring back funds from abroad.

This was evident in the stocks. When the quake hit the yen fell to around 83.29 per dollar.

However this rose to trade at 82.80 as people recalled how the flow of capital back into the country pushed the currency to a record high, following the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake in 1995.

It is thought that the economy could suffer in the near future as the destruction will require extra government spending, thus stretching the finances of Japan.

*Undersea power cables have also been damaged, which could take hold on the connectivity of calls made between China and Japan.

That’s according to a spokesman for the parent company of Chinese network operator China Unicom. The company said that two or three cables were damaged and although it didn’t have the full information, it has adjusted routers to redirected data along cables that haven’t been damaged.

*Mobile networks are down as are landlines. The frantic efforts of relatives, business colleagues and friends to contact each other has only worsened the load on Japan’s infrastructure. People in Japan have been turning to the likes of Twitter and Facebook to communicate outside the country.

*Reports are in that Taiwan is unaffected – and a government Tsunami warning has been lifted.