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Toyota Motor Corp. expects to halt production in the United States because of a parts shortage.

     Toyota plans to “temporary" close all of its thirteen plants in the North American continent due to lack of Japanese manufactured parts. This move makes one wonder about real, so far unknown economic situation in Japan, which, as we know, absolutely does not need assistance from the IMF. Three weeks ago IMF assured us that Japan is solvent and economy of this country is sound.

     However, during all of this time which passed since Japan’s natural disaster, Japanese were unable to restore its system of industrial production based on the principle of JIT (Just-in-time), which means high dependence on the punctuality of component suppliers, delivered almost directly to the assembly lines from many different places, including places still recovering from tsunami and earthquake.
     So far nobody had any doubts that Japan’s economy would recover soon. However, The question arises - how big should be a blow of nature to push economy of highly developed country such as Japan on a way of collapse?
     After all, it is clear that if there are two stores that sell car parts residing on the same city block, in case of fire in one of them, the second one should get all of competitive advantage over first store which was damaged by the fire. There are lots of other automakers who will rapidly take the Toyota’s market share. American, European and Korean auto giants will never miss this opportunity.

     The last three weeks Toyota factories in North America were assembling cars using parts that were not used on assembly lines in Japan since the auto-market of Japan has ceased to exist and assembly lines in Japan were halted. All of unused parts were rerouted to U.S. To make this process even worse, Japanese car part suppliers still are not able to restore the production of car parts in Japan. In the same time Toyota factories in North America use as much as 15% of Japanese manufactured parts on their assembly lines which makes “temporary closure” of Toyota factories in North America inevitable in this very April.

     Apparently, “Just-in-time” economic concept which depends heavily on outsourcing as a way to cut expenses proved to be a house of cards during the times of natural disasters. There is a theory, which believes that a very complex system can be destroyed easily by at first glance very light damage, while a simple system can continue to function even in the event of total collapse. There is a possibility that Japan now suffering this “light damage” which will eventually stop the entire economic system for a while thus giving an excellent chance for competitors.

     There is a possibility that the Japanese economy has received a mortal wound and is on the verge of total collapse.

Mikhail Mayorov05-04-11


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