June 29, 2011

Nissan Recovery Stories -Iwaki Factory-

Nissan Global Media Center interviewed Nobuhiro Ozawa, General Manager of Nissan Iwaki Factory

Q1. Where were you at the time of the earthquake? How did you respond?


I was in a meeting on the second floor of the office. The main shock had a magnitude of more than 6 at the plant. I felt strong shaking that lasted for 3 minutes. I was concerned about what was going on inside the plant. I first made sure I was safe and then went outside with the plant’s employees where we held a meeting to account for everyone. We were lucky that all of the 304 employees present that day were evacuated safely without any injuries. That encouraged us.

Q2. How bad was the damage caused by the earthquake?


The plant suffered serious damage. Right after the quake, we had electricity but all the other infrastructure was shut down. Windows in the plant’s roof, ducts and pipes had fallen down and it was unsafe to go back inside. My instinct was that it would take quite a long time to restore production.

Q3. How did you go about resuming production at the plant?


As soon as the earthquake happened, Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga launched the Earthquake Crisis Committee at the company headquarters. As the Iwaki Plant was closest to the quake’s epicenter and experienced the most serious damage, we spoke with the committee daily using a satellite phone. We discussed plans to restore production and asked for support. I felt HQ granted almost all our requests.

Q4. Please tell us about the impact of earthquake on the production and the forecast.


We had to wait about two months until we resumed output as we had to have all the necessary parts. As our customers are waiting for us, I want to make up for the lost output as soon as possible. We expect to have caught up by the second half of the year.

Q5. What do you think of the employees at the Iwaki Plant who worked on the restoration?


I want to thank those who have given us support as well as employees at the plant. At first, we planned to resume full production in early June, but we made it on May 17, two weeks ahead of the schedule. It took only two months. I think we saw that Japanese people have strong resilience. Also, the managers and group leaders at the plant showed a sense of responsibility and mission that was excellent. These people set targets and led the employees. I admire them for taking responsibility and showing leadership.