Hollowing Out of Japan’s Auto Industry

It doesn’t take much to bring an automotive assembly line to a halt, according to John Mendel, CEO of Honda’s U.S. subsidiary, even “something as small as a speedometer needle.”

It’s a lesson the automaker has had driven home after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, killing tens of thousands and all but shutting down the country’s auto industry for the better part of a month. Since then, shortages of various parts and components, some as small a speedometer needle, have forced a sharp cutback in production by Japanese automakers.

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