By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: The extent of damage and closures to Japanese consumer electronics' facilities in the wake of last week's natural disasters is varied with Sharp revealing the least amount of difficulties so far and Nikon and Sony reporting widespread issues.

Some suppliers have disabled operations altogether due to earthquake damage, predominantly facilities located at the worst affected city, Sendai; other suppliers have ceased or are downgrading operations in an effort to assist the nation’s electricity crisis caused by the severely troubled nuclear power plants, including the potential nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi.

In Australia, Sony’s head of corporate communications, Jenny Geddes today told that the impact on supply to Australia was uncertain.

“At this stage there is no indication of how the recent events in Japan will affect supply of Sony products to Australia. We will continue to work with our head office to determine what impact may occur.”

Sony yesterday announced that operations at several Sony Corporation and Sony Group sites and facilities had been affected by the earthquake and tsunami. As of mid day yesterday Sony suspended operations at six facilities responsible for the manufacturing of magnetic tapes, Blu-ray discs, optical devices and lithium ion second batteries. Additionally, the Sendai Technology Centre has ceased operation due to earthquake damage and possible damage at other Group companies is being assessed presently. Meanwhile, three other production plants are being voluntarily suspended in aid of alleviating widespread power outages.

“Sony also has responded to reports of widespread power outages by voluntarily suspending operations at several sites. No significant injuries have been reported to employees working at any of these sites when the earthquake or tsunami occurred,” said the statement issued on its website.

“The company is currently evaluating the full impact of the earthquake, tsunami and related power outages on Sony's businesses and consolidated financial results.”

Nikon yesterday reported damage to equipment and buildings at its four group companies, other subsidiaries as well as its plants. It said it would be suspending operations as it continues to evaluate further details of the damage.

“We are unable to announce how soon the operation will resume due to the regional interruption of life-lines although endeavour for restoration are under the way by some of our maintenance personnel,” said the Nikon announcement.

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A spokesperson from Panasonic told that the company had suspended operations at the factories in the related area.

"At this early stage it is not possible for us to comment in more detail on how these events will impact in the longer term, however there will be no immediate effect here for customers or retailers in Australia," said the spokesperson.

"Panasonic Australia is monitoring the situation closely and will update you as soon as further information is available."

On its Japanese website Sharp Corporation has said there are no extensive damages to its buildings or production facilities, including the plant located at Yaita-city, Tochigi Prefecture. It also said its LCD panel production facilities in Sakai-city, Kameyama-city, Taki-cho, and Tenri-city are continuing normal operation.

Toshiba has not issued an official statement.