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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Renesas Electronics Corp, Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Sony Group Corp. and other precision parts makers halted some operations on Thursday after an earthquake shook the country’s northeast, the latest blow to the global supply chain.


Even as Japan’s dominance in consumer electronics has faded, manufacturers have carved out a global leadership position in highly specialized components such as ceramic capacitors from Murata and image sensors from Sony.


Thursday’s production halt comes after pandemic-related component shortages have already hampered production of automobiles and electronics around the world.


“An earthquake stopping production is a pure negative given that components are currently selling out as fast as you can make them,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.


The 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit just before midnight on Wednesday east of Fukushima prefecture, the same area that suffered Japan’s largest earthquake 11 years ago.


Last year, Renesas became a supply choke point after a fire broke out at its plant in Naka, Ibaraki prefecture.


The company, which makes nearly a third of the microcontroller chips used in cars globally, said on Thursday it had temporarily halted production at two factories and partially halted production at a third.


Among them was the advanced Naka 300 millimeter wafer factory. Ford Motor said up to 80% of its lost vehicle production in the second quarter of last year was due to the fire.


Kyoto-based Murata, the world’s largest supplier of ceramic capacitors, which are used in smartphones, computers and cars, said it suspended operations at four factories after the quake.


A fire, later extinguished, broke out at a factory producing chip inductors, he said.


Underlining the pressure on the auto industry, Japan’s biggest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp, said its global production target would be 10% lower in May and 5% lower in June than earlier estimates.


The revised estimates did not include the impact of the earthquake, he added.


Although many companies are not known in the West, these manufacturers are increasingly seen as key national assets amid growing technology competition between China and the United States.


One of Japan’s best-known conglomerates, Sony, said it has halted production at two factories in Miyagi prefecture and a third factory in Yamagata prefecture producing storage media, laser diodes and image sensors. .


The company later said production would be restarted gradually.


Chipmaker Kioxia said some production equipment at a factory in Iwate Prefecture automatically shut down after shaking caused by the earthquake was detected.