JAPAN – Bridgestone, Toyo Tire, Yokohama, and Sumitomo Rubber Industries announced that they have shut down operations at a number of their plants in the wake of the disaster in Japan.

Modern Tire Dealer reported on tire company closures in its Editor Bob Ulrich's blog, as well as in news stories, following Japan’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

At Toyo Tire, Kenji Nakakura, CEO and president of Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., issued a statement. He said the company’s facility in Northern Japan was directly affected by the earthquake, and that the company set up an emergency crisis center where it is currently verifying the safety and welfare of all employees and their families.

“At the present time, neither the Sendai nor our other manufacturing plants in Japan have been affected by the tsunami, and there has not been any significant earthquake damage to our plant building or facilities,” said Nakakura. “However, due to a power outage, the Sendai plant has temporarily been shut down. Once power is restored, and the safety of the plant facility has been confirmed, the company plans to restore operations, but it is not yet clear when this will happen.”

Bridgestone Corp. has announced that no one was injured and there was no critical damage to its five northeastern Japan facilities affected by Friday’s earthquake catastrophe.

In response to the disaster, Bridgestone stopped production at four facilities until it can verify it can safely resume production. Two of its facilities, the Tochigi and Tokyo plants, produce passenger car, truck, and bus tires. The company said it has resumed partial production at its facility in the city of Yokohama.

At Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., the company said it suspended operations at a number of its plants in Japan though there has been no serious damage to buildings or equipment. The company is working to determine a schedule for a return to full operation given the Japanese government’s electricity supply restrictions and raw material availability during the crisis.

Yokohama also announced that it will donate $610,000 (50,000,000 yen) to assist with relief efforts.

Modern Tire Dealer also reported that Sumitomo Rubber Ind. Ltd. has suspended operations.