Nikon plants in Sendai “virtually impossible to resume operations in 14 days” *UPDATED*

Before and after the earthquake satellite images from NASA compared with Google maps

Update #1: it seems that the article was talking about March 14th (Monday) and not about a timeframe of 14 days. The initial Google translation was:

"Miyagi Prefecture factory to produce high-end digital SLR cameras for professionals, announced that it is virtually impossible to resume operations in 14 days".

Update #2: here is a better translation of the text:

"Nikon announced on 13th that they cannot re-start operation of high-end digital SLR camera  actually from 14th.  The building was not damaged by tsunami but they announced  it is not clear when the plant could be re-started because they cannot expect power and material supply at present.  They are checking production equipment now."

The Japanese site Asahi reports that Nikon's plants in Miyagi Prefecture (where Sendai is located) are virtually impossible to resume operations in 14 days. The buildings were damaged but still standing. The Sendai factory produces high-end and pro level Nikon SLR cameras.

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  • bogdan


  • ob1

    apparently there’ll be a 2nd quake magnitude 7 in the 3-4 days…


  • PHB

    This is a minor problem compared to what is going on down the road with the nuclear plant. If they can’t get that under control…

    In addition to the structural problems with the buildings they are going to have to recalibrate every one of their machines that requires precise alignment. Lens making requires that type of calibration at multiple points in the process.

    So add a month or two to waiting times for many gold band lenses.

    • As far as the nuclear is concerned my father was involved in the procurement management of the construction of several UK nuclear plants. Whilst the design of the Japanese reactors is different it follows the basic same design.

      Currently all the reactors are in “off mode” this means the nuclear reaction has been slowed, unlike Chernobyl the carbon rods that absorb the neutrons have been put into the reactor. What is currently happening is something called “decay heat” as the nuclear reaction stops this heat is generated by the decay of the reactor material, this process happens every day and is normally not a big deal if the coolant system is running. Currently as the diesel generators were damaged / destroyed and the battery back-ups aren’t functioning correctly, at plant 1 or 3 this decay heat is building up.

      But its a downwards scale in the sense that we’ve reached the peak of the heat and as long as the coolant system is restored soon, we won’t reach the stage of meltdown.

      If we do reach the stage of meltdown we will not see a Chernobyl style event. These Japanese reactors like the US reactor at three mile island won’t blow the roof off like the Russian design but rather sink into the ground. Whilst this is also bad we won’t see the level of devastation we saw with Chernobyl.

      Long story short, the media is making it out worse than it is.

      • cpm5280

        The freakout hype about this has been abysmal.

        Here’s a somewhat more measured look at the nuclear generator situation in Japan:

        • David

          The MIT guy referenced is not a nuclear scientist; his expertise seems to lie in Risk Management. Hmmm. seems like Risk Management (or lack thereof) should be getting a huge black eye for “misjudging” the possibility of this event (earthquake+tsunami+coastal nuclear plants). The site he references are *ALL* tied directly to groups with vested interests in promoting nuclear power. In my judgement, that makes him a shill.

        • PHB

          Well I am a former MIT research scientist and I have a degree from a top Nuclear Physics lab. I think you and the folk who are pushing the Dr Josef Oehmen piece around misunderstand the point he was making.

          There are two problems here, the first is that the plant is threatening to overheat and melt down. The second is that they were forced to vent a certain amount of highly radioactive but short halflife material into the atmosphere. Oehmen is only speaking to the last point. The release of that material is not a worry because it decays very fast, minutes to hours.

          There is still a major problem with the plant itself which has not shut down despite attempts to do so. Either the design of the plant is grossly defective or they are unable to insert the control rods or both.

          We do know that there was an explosion due to hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas being given off is due to a metal fire in the zirconium casing of the fuel rods. The metal is reducing the water to strip the oxygen and release hydrogen. That requires a temperature of 2000 degrees C. So the idea that the situation is normal or controlled is clearly false.

          If the temperature rises to 4000 degrees, the stainless steel reactor vessel will melt and start to do the same thing. That would be incredibly bad.

          Chernobyl was the result of a defective design but the particular design defect could not be detected without using 3D simulation techniques that were not possible until the mid 1970s and even then only with the very fastest machines (Cray class). I strongly suspect that similar design defects were discovered in Western reactors since there was a spate of early closures round about the time that the cause was discovered in the mid 80s. The UK magnox reactors were closed about that time.

          • David

            Oehrman assumes that what is being vented contains no reaction by-products from the fission of Uranium, and this is a proven-false assumption: Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 have both been detected downwind of the partially-melted-core reactors. The half-life of Iodine-131 is 8 hours. The half-life of Cesium-137 is 30 years. It is also chemically toxic in very small amounts as well as being radioactive (a gamma ray source). The half-life of Strontium-90 is 28.9 years. The Japanese government is issuing Iodine treatments now because the contamination is much worse than is generally understood. It makes me wonder if Oerhman consulted on the risk assessment that okayed placing nuclear reactors at sea-level in an area known for earthquakes *and* tsunamis. He certainly appears to be well-connected with the nuclear power industry promoters.

            This is not Chernobyl. It is its own special set of nuclear accidents. Welcome to “Extreme Energy”.

            • You have the point. The Problem (with capital ‘P’) is not in atomic energy itself. It takes its place in the sphere of development, management and staff. The main cause of Chernobyl catastrophe was irresponsibility of higher-ups that led to the worst scenario in the human history EVER. I live in Ukraine, so tell you: here issue of ‘bad management – non-professional staff’ is overwhelming. It was, is and will be forever.

              Japanese, unfortunally, were not much cleverer when okayed placing atomic plant in dangerous area.

          • Djn

            You know, except for how many (a majority, I believe) of the Magnox reactors were only closed in the 2000s, after a long service life?
            (I believe two of them are still going.)

      • Bernhard Einstein

        Don’t believe in your nuclear dream my friend.

        The radiation is rising and rising, next to the fact that these nuke power plants are driven by plutonium. Its a nightmare come true.

        If the reactor has crack. And it looks like it has then radiation unfortunately will continue to leak with devestating consequences. If thats the case the area will be poluted for decades to come…

      • > won’t blow the roof off like the Russian design but rather sink into the ground

        If the radiaton will leak to the underground waters that will be not better scenario.

        • Jasper Janssen

          Actually, it will be a *much* better scenario. Contaminated groundwater might be a problem for the environment in the area. Chernobyl was an environmental problem across all of europe.

    • The invisible man

      The 14-24mm f/2.8 is already “temporary out of stock”, I had to bougth mine yesterday (saturday) from Ritz Cameras ($1999).

      Pro lenses and cameras will be hard to find because people who planed to buy it soon bought it right away fearing non disposibility due to problems in Japan.

      • pooparty

        right on. just got a d700 today.

      • d70

        wow $1999. you should have taken advantage of the combo rebates. i got mine a week ago with D7000. That brought it down $400 when you just turn around and sell D7000 or eBay or something. In my case, I got from Amazon and kept the D7000 for video. Amazon was $50 cheaper than B&H and no tax.

        • JorPet

          My 14-24 and 70-200 should be here tomorrow along with my D7000. They missed the Friday delivery due to weather I guess. So I’m good for another year. I went with B&H due to having the opposite issue as you. Amazon is located here, so they have to charge sales tax, B&H didn’t and shipped for free.

      • Brian

        I believe Roberts Camera in Indianapolis still has them in stock.

  • rick

    objects can go…but let us just hope that the people are safe

    • Man de Labrat


      Let us pause and release our material wants and pray for our fellow man’s needs

    • JorPet

      Totally agree.

  • Funduro

    The whole country will be having rolling blackouts for sometime. The offline nuclear reactors capacity is been felt nationwide. I read that many areas suffered “subsidence” the ground lowered(possibly from the weight of the water). This is an epic event, the Japanese people are going to have to rebuild damaged infrastructure and housing. This is way bigger then Katrina. Add the nuclear plants partial meltdown issues and things are looking bad very long time. The nuclear reactors radiation releases is making a really tragic catastrophe into the epic worst case situation.

  • xaphod

    so… this means I won’t get my D800 anytime soon then? 🙁 🙁 🙁
    hope everyone is ok over there!

    • Vandyu

      No, sorry about that D800 delay. But, on the bright side for you, you’ll probably still be receiving food, water, housing, healthcare, a job, a car, school for the kids (if you have them), Sunday dinner at the folks’ house, and those other things you take for granted.

      • Charlie Sheen


      • Phil

        Well, maybe not healthcare or a job…

        • Yep, I’m already missing those…

      • xaphod

        hehe easy… standard internet sarcasm detection fail…

      • I shoot Nikon


        So true. Now do you agree that we should make a rule that no camera conversations are allowed until the situation in Japan has improved?

        Since you are so quick to point out how good we have it when compared to the Japanese, then why don’t you share one of your minor privileges with the devastated nation by selling all your camera gear and donating the proceeds to the relief fund of Japan? I’m sure it should be be easy for you, since you sound so caring and compassionate, plus you’ll still have your job and the Sunday dinners at your folks’ house. Imagine how little the camera gear is worth when compared to the most important things in life. Can you imagine that your donation will help someone get back all those important pieces of life they’ve lost, which the rest of us take for granted?

        I guess being caring and compassionate versus trying to sound like you are in some anonymous post are two very different things…

        Still, I’m glad that you are out there helping the people of Japan by pointing out how others care a lot less about the tragedy than you! You are truly making a difference!

    • Roninsteel

      They will be looking to ship ASAP to make up for the shortfall in production trouble is the new D800 might glow in the dark by then

  • Dweeb

    I doddaso, I fn a toddaso. I doubt they’ll be even making lense caps in 2 weeks. Is the translation saying that it was also impacted by the Tsunami? That won’t be good either.

    It’s not just production — R&D could have been hammered too. I wonder when Nikon itself will let on what’s officially happening?

  • eric k

    Japan was moved 8 feet from where it was before.

    The Earth’s axis shifted 4 inches.

    So, yeah, some recalibrations are in order.

    • The invisible man

      My 24mm PC-E will take care of that 4 inches earth axis shift with no problems.

      • science

        oh lord, science

  • KOR1
  • My D7000 and 24-120mm f4 is “made in Thailand”, so is it only D3, D700 etc. that are made in Sendai?

    Either way, Nikon is probably the least to worry about all over the world right now, so let’s hope the nuclear power plants doesn’t get worse and let’s help Japan as much as possible in their rebuilding.

    • Nikon generally make its top range in Japan.

      • WoutK89

        That includes the lenses as well. mind you!

  • For some additional information on the nuclear fears, please read these:

    I didn’t write them. Just passing them on. I’m not a nuclear expert, but both sound well-versed to me.

    However, the BBC (
    just reported this:
    “A former nuclear power plant designer has said Japan is facing an extremely grave crisis and called on the government to release more information, which he said was being suppressed. Masashi Goto told a news conference in Tokyo that one of the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was “highly unstable”, and that if there was a meltdown the “consequences would be tremendous”. He said such an event might be very likely indeed. So far, the government has said a meltdown would not lead to a sizeable leak of radioactive materials.”

    Supplies are running out in Sendai (all the way down to Tokyo as well). It’s getting difficult to get gasoline. I read one case of ration cards being given out for gas in Tokyo. Locally, there are lines to the pumps. Given all this, one needs infrastructure in order to refresh the supplies. However, with roads and trains out, this making restocking difficult. With electricity being rationed, that makes it all the more difficult.

    So it will take awhile for us to get squared away again. I would imagine the Nikon Sendai plant employees will be using their time trying to get their lives pieced back together. Many of them have probably lost homes and loved ones. If nothing else, they’ve just suffered through an extremely traumatic event. So it definitely will not be business-as-usual up there anytime soon.

    • PHB

      The MIT guy is responding to the risk from the venting, he does not seem to have known that the venting demonstrates the core of the reactor has reached 2000 degrees C.

      The other guy is an operator, not an engineer. He is simply not qualified to comment.

      If the temperature gets high enough the stainless steel in the reactor container will reduce the cooling water in a self-sustaining chemical reaction, a metal fire. If that happens it is incredibly bad.

      The bigger problem is that the light water design itself is inherently flawed. It is not a failsafe design. If it was it would have shut down safely without any part reaching 2000 degrees C. Like all light water designs it relies on multiple layers of what are meant to be redundant backup systems. Building a non-failsafe design in an earthquake zone seems rather poor judgement.

  • pkb

    4.6 miles from the coast. Don’t know their elevation yet but in some places the Tsunami came inland about 6 miles.

    • dp

      According to Google Earth the Nikon factory is located 10 meter above sea Level.

      Sendai airport was flooded by the tsunami. Just 4.5 kilometers away.

      N24 (a german news channel) says that Sendai was heavily hit by the tsunami

    • Roninsteel

      Look on google

  • Luka Kito

    ‘In 14 days’ is a google’s translation error. Their official comment is ‘on the 14th’ which only means, Monday the 14th.

    Considering the lack of electricity, means of procuring supplies, the fact Sendai Airport was completely submerged, it is quite likely that impact from earthquake and subsequent tsunami will have long term impact.

  • Jean

    Nikon lenses and bodies severe shortage is to be excepted. Buy what you’ve planned right now when it’s still available. Nobody’s know how Nikon will recover from these quake and (soon) nuclear disasters.

    • Vandyu

      Good advice. The people that should be concerned about Nikon’s plant shutdown are the pro photographers who have to have equipment to make a living. If you can’t find what you need from Nikon, look at existing alternatives.

      Everyone else can use what they have or what is available now for their hobby and let Nikon focus on rebuilding and getting professionals outfitted as soon as feasible. First things first.

      In reality, the entire nation of Japan has been turned upside down. So, let’s give these people our support and help them to get their lives back in some semblance of normalcy.


      Well, given this tragedy, we bought the D700 yesterday. It’s tough to be so capitalistic, but at least it’s money into the Japanese economy.

      • Dan

        Yes, as a very export-dependent economy, Japan needs us to continue buying their products. Otherwise, this horrible tragedy will be even worse. They will desperately need money coming in to help finance the massive rebuilding in the months and years to come.

  • The translation makes no sense. It could mean they will not open Monday, but how long is anyone’s guess. The entire country has been disrupted. All it takes is for the supplier of one tiny part to be shut down, and everything will stop moving.

  • Torben

    I hope my D4 will be allright.

    • pooparty

      good luck… i gave in and got a d7 hundo today…
      earthquake+ tsunami+partial nuclear meltdown= nobody gives a rats a** about making cameras.

      • jasdfo

        Japanese work pretty hard. Don’t be surprised if they’ll all at work next Monday.

  • Well, … I was looking forward to new DSLR´s, but at this time I´m thinking more about this poor people in Japan. Hope they will be OK soon.

  • ku

    the article is saying they cannot resume operation “from the 14th,” not “in 14 days.” At this moment they have no expected date when they can.

  • broxibear

    NY Times has some before and after satellite images here:
    It’s difficult to comprehend the scale, what can you say ?

  • Correct. It says 14th not 14 days. It also says they was no specific damage from the quake or tsunami but also no estimate at this time on when production can resume due to the need to check equipment and power disruptions.

  • Dr.

    The BBC’s Damian Grammaticus in the north-eastern city of Sendai, says: “In the city centre, things look pretty normal. The earthquake did not do the damage that the tsunami did. Around here, everything looks pretty much intact. But what you find is that during the day time, there were huge queues of people outside the few shops which were open. Food and drinking water are in short supply. However, when you go down to the seashore, you see the devastation. Every community located in a zone a couple of miles deep along the coast has been obliterated by the tsunami. One woman who goes to the area every week told me that she did not know where she was now.”

  • pkb

    Maybe NR could start a contest or something to get donations going for a well known charity. Red Cross I don’t have much faith in because of the amount of money they actually send to emergencies vs. how much they spend on PR. Maybe a reader knows of a temple or church in the region we could donate to? If it was closer to home I’d send them a bunch of down quilts, it is still very much winter there… Heck maybe Nikon herself is going to set up a place to make donations.

  • RumpelHund

    If the camera factoring machines are only halfway as precise as those in semiconductor industry they will have a hell of a time getting them into proper state after all this rattling and shaking.

    As stated before this is not the point of this desaster, just a small addition to the human desaster Japan faces.

    Regarding the reactors my opinion is that once the carbon rods are molten/burnt/exploded to, if at all, some liquid topping swimming on the uranium/plutonium soup at the reactor’s bottom nobody will predict what’s to happen then, cooled or not. Whatever they will try to do with this soup anyway…

  • frager


  • ron

    If the Nikon plant survived perfectly intact, there are no roads, no electric power, no food, no water, no housing… no town to support the people that work in the plant, and no transportation to bring resources in and finished product out. Countless families are missing or dead. And those remaining are suddenly homeless. I’m sure the very last thing on the minds of our friends in Sendai it to get the Nikon plant up and running again.

    • broxibear

      Hi ron,
      I was watching a piece by Jon Snow from Channel Four news here in the UK, he was reporting from Sendai. He said there was almost a line on the ground where the tsunami ran out of power and stopped, look one way and it was perfectly normal with people going about their normal business…turn round and it was utter devastation.
      By all accounts the Nikon plant was in an area that wasn’t reached by the water…
      “I and my team have been out around this significant port city (pop one million), much of it surprisingly undamaged. The rest of it, almost beyond recognition.”

      • Understand how easy it may be to think that just because things look normal in the area, it doesn’t mean that life will move on with no problems. Ron is correct in most of his assessments. There may be roads in the city, but in many places around the city, roads are closed and/or washed out/covered in mudslides.

        I live 150 miles south in an area that was, in comparison to Sendai, basically unscathed. We’re still looking at gasoline shortages and there is a lack of basic foodstuffs on supermarket/convenience store shelves. Bread, rice, milk, eggs, instant noodles, batteries… they’re hard to come by where I’m at. From what my Tokyo friends tell me, they’re hard to find in the city (as you have to get in huge lines as well). I’ve heard similar reports in Sendai and imagine it will be much worse and the normal lines of distribution are heavily disrupted.

        I’m sure Jon Snow means well, but IMO, he’s a poor reporter. I took issue w/ him on another site twice for spreading FUD and not fact-checking well enough.

  • D700guy

    The whole thing just makes me sick.
    To thing how life as we all know it can change in a day.
    It’s hard to fathom.

  • Schema

    All my New Nikon Equipment will Be Sold die example unused! And with Full guarantee 24 f 1.4, 35 f 1.4 and so on. Interst Welcome

  • Mark

    Nikon cannot continue as if it’s business as usual. I would doubt now that any timetable Nikon has will continue unaffected. Let’s get off the rumour hunt and let Japan get on with coping with this awful tragedy. And if Nikon is unable to deliver product, let’s not complain. They have more important things to worry about right now. My heart goes out to Japan and her people.

  • ShaoLynx

    I donate to an organisation called “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (pronounced [medəsɛ̃ sɑ̃ fʁɔ̃tjɛʁ]), or Doctors Without Borders, it is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization. See Wikipedia for more details.
    I donate a small amount every month since some years before the large Tsunami now several years ago. It’s in times like these and with events like these that I feel happy about being a regular donor…
    From what I find online I understand MSF is already in the affected region.
    May everything restore to normal soon.

  • Some of the comment here is ridiculous. I wonder if some people have even looked at the pictures or understood the nuclear issue.

    Japan is currently having to do without 20% of its power and is facing serious issues to do with evacuation due to the potential for extremely serious nuclear events which may or may not be avoided. There are untold thousands of dead and homeless, the infrastructure is basically broken in the north. How can any production of anything continue? How are they going to get anything in or out of that region that isn’t an urgent requirement of people on the ground?

    Forget cameras and manufacturing – the idea that stuff will continue to roll out of that region is completely unthinkable, I don’t believe for a minute that Nikon will be carrying on with their BAU operation tomorrow morning for one minute – they haven’t even got water for crying out loud.

    • PHB

      They wont have a port for months either. Take a look, its gone. They will need to rebuild the cranes before they can do anything.

      With 20% of the power generating capacity lost I would expect to see a sudden program of switching to CFL bulbs in place. Lighting is about a third of power use.

  • Gareth

    I’de say they are more concerned about moving the hundreds of dead bodies than they are about making cameras…

  • Johnson

    I think the original message is saying that Nikon (Miyagi factory) is impossible to resume work from 14th of March (Monday), due to electrical shortage and building damaged by the tsunami and also out of resources. The spokesman said that they have no scheduled date to resume the operation at the moment as the manufacturing machines are under inspection now.

  • Maybe this translation is better:

    Nikon announced on 13th that they cannot re-start operation of high-end digital SLR camera actually from 14th. The building was not damaged by tsunami but they announced it is not clear when the plant could be re-started because they cannot expect power and material supply at present. They are checking production equipment now.

    I deeply appreciate many people’s sympathy, donation and help from abroad.

    In Japan the accident of the nuclear plant is not reported so serious as abroad, but it is true that we have to have most interest in the damage and radioactive pollution.

    Issy, DPHOTO japan

    • thanks for the translation, I will update the post

  • Yup 14th March 🙂

  • Merv

    Even if the factory was not damaged at all, I would think the employees would still be in a state of shock trying to worry about their own homes and lives and what has to be done immediately.

    With the Japanese government proposing rolling blackouts, I am not sure if any manufacturer there would be given a higher priority to the electrical grid.

    I also think the transportation infrastructure (shipping, trains, flight) will be disorganized for the next little while, and I’d think any manufactured product in Sendai wouldn’t be going anywhere soon

  • Glenn

    Sendai is a disaster area.!! No power and no transport in or out. Things will not be normal for a long time. I am 200km away and even here we have been strongly affected. Shops are closed food is hard to get gasoline has stopped. Only emergency services can travel the highways.
    The prime minister announced that this is the worst state of the country since the 2nd world war.
    I wouldn’t hold your breath for having anything coming out of the Sendai plant for a long time.

  • [NR]Admin,
    Yes #23 gives an idea of the shipping situation.
    Sendai is very close to Fukushima where the nuclear reactor is now in partial meltdown. I hope they can contain it.

  • Yianni

    My thoughts are with the people of Japan.

    From what we’ve seen I believe camera manufacturer’s have pretty much missed the tsunami and have only suffered minor damages to their factories.

    The same can be said for electronics and car manufacturers.

    I believe they’ll get back on their feet soon soon but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the millions of Japanese affected by the quake and tsunami.

  • broxibear

    Things are getting worse in Japan, I’m watching NHK World live and not only is there another tsunami and evacuation warning, but there’s been an explosion at the no.3 reactor at at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

  • Mike Devonport

    I would appreciate Nikon Rumors and Nikon Bloggers, stop speculating when Nikon plant will be up in running. Do people realize that it takes people to run the plant. I have a question: If you living in an area that had natural disasters, would you be thinking of work or would you be thinking how am I going to survive right now, did my family and friends survive? I would also thinking did my house survive as well?

    There is no sense or logic for me to think or speculate on when Nikon plant, would be up in running. That’s just nuts. If people think that they want the new camera right now. They are living in dream world. Japan just went though Earth Quake, Tsunami, two nuclear plans just had a partial meltdown, that could lead to full meltdown, an on top of that a volcano just came to life after 20-30 years.

    Why would any person, no scratch that. Why would any human being think of a camera over a person or persons? I just can’t get my head around that. This does not make sense??

    • Mike, I am not speculating – I am just reporting the news.

    • I shoot Nikon

      “Why would any person, no scratch that. Why would any human being think of a camera over a person or persons? I just can’t get my head around that. This does not make sense??”

      Pardon my ignorance, but what are you doing on a Nikon camera rumor site if you are currently concerned with the “persons” over a camera, or did you end up here by accident? I have no doubt that you are intelligent enough to realize there are much better news reporting sites out there if the current state of affairs in Japan is your main concern, so I take it you didn’t come here to find the latest updates on Japan’s nuclear crisis.

    • Rob

      Hypocrisy at its best.

  • Zim

    So what camera’s do they make at this plant? The Japanese people will pull it together and get their country going.

  • Roninsteel

    Best thing we can do is buy the new cameras when they come out to support the recovery

  • Chris Weller

    Does anyone know if the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII is manufactured or goes through the plant in Sendai?

  • Massimo Masone

    17 pictures were taken in Sendai (where Nikon pro-dslr factory is)

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