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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Toyota resumes Japanese output
Rikon production line
Rikon's shutdown had a widespread effect on Japan's car industry
Car giant Toyota is to resume production at more than half of its assembly lines in Japan closed down by an earthquake earlier this month.

The group plans to open 20 lines at 12 assembly plants after a key parts supplier, Rikon, restarted operations.

Rikon's closure prompted all eight of Japan's carmakers to suspend some or all domestic production.

The stoppage would lead to 55,000 fewer vehicles being made but was unlikely to affect annual targets, Toyota said.

President Katsuaki Watanabe said the firm had maintained its full year sales targets at 9.34 million units despite fears about the sluggish Japanese market.

Last week, sales figures showed the firm had overtaken US rival General Motors - in terms of world sales - for the first time during the first six months of the year.

Production fears

There had been concerns about the effect of the earthquake which hit the country on 16 July, killing 10 people and destroying buildings and roads.

The quake led to the closure of Rikon Corp - Japan's main piston ring supplier - which had a knock-on effect on the country's main carmakers.

Rikon began production after workers, some sent by automakers, helped fix machinery and restore gas and water supplies.

Of the other car makers affected, Ford affiliate Mazda said it would restart production on Tuesday.

Mitsubishi has said it would decide whether to restart production on Tuesday, while Honda and Nissan have yet to decide when they will reopen their plants.

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