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Toyota reopens all Japanese plants

Toyota resumed car production at all of its plants in Japan for the first time since the earthquake and tsunami, but said the factories will run at half capacity due to parts shortages.

The world's number one car maker said it was still struggling to secure around 150 types of components after the disaster destroyed factories in north-eastern Japan, causing severe shortages.

Toyota was forced to shut down all output in Japan except at three plants, which have been running at limited capacity since late March and early April to produce best-selling Prius, Lexus and Corolla cars.

The 900 workers at Toyota's plant in Miyagi, one of the worst-hit areas in the disasters, observed a minute's silence for tsunami victims before starting work. In Miyagi alone, police said over 8,400 people have been killed.

Toru Kuzuhara, president of Toyota subsidiary Central Motor, which operates the Miyagi plant, said he hoped the resumption of production would help spur reconstruction efforts in the tsunami-battered region.

The Miyagi plant - Toyota's newest car factory in Japan - began operations in January. The plant suffered minor damage due to the quake. Toyota makes Yaris compact saloons at the Miyagi factory for export to North America.

Other Japanese car makers have also had to halt or slow operations in the wake of the disasters.

Honda's operation in Britain has been running at 50% of planned weekly production since April 11 due to shortages of parts supplied from Japan, a cutback expected to last until the end of May. The company announced on Friday that it was extending slowdowns at plants in Canada and the US until at least early May.

Toyota will keep production at all its Japanese plants at half capacity until April 27, and then halt output from April 28 to May 9, a period that includes Golden Week holidays when factories would normally close.

The company will resume production in Japan from May 10 to June 3 at half of normal levels. Toyota has said it will make a decision in coming weeks about production plans beyond that period.

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