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Honda extends car-making shutdown

Honda has announced that it is extending its suspension of car and motorcycle production in Japan until Sunday because of a parts shortage following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Japanese car companies are struggling with power cuts and a dwindling supply of components as a result of the disaster which devastated the north-east region of the country.

Honda confirmed in a statement that the extended shutdown affects finished vehicle production at its Saitama and Suzuka factories and motorcycles at its Kumamoto factory. It had previously announced that the shutdown would end on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Toyota, the world's biggest car maker, will decide on Tuesday when it will be able to resume production at 11 factories in Japan, company spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said. He confirmed that the company, which makes the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, resumed some parts production last week.

The maker of Subaru cars, Fuji Heavy Industries, said it will start making parts for foreign production on Wednesday and spare parts on Thursday but the shutdown at five car factories in Japan was extended until Thursday.

Japanese car makers are expected to rebound once they restart production following the earthquake and tsunami which killed at least 18,000 people. But industry analysts say they will be hampered by power shortages and damage to roads.

Last week, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors restarted some plants using their stocks of parts. Car manufacturers are scrambling to find alternative parts suppliers to replace those disabled by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

The disaster-stricken north-east region is home mostly to tertiary parts-makers - small manufacturing firms which make parts for secondary and other suppliers.

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