Sony to restart Blu-ray Disc production in late May

The tsunami-hit factory was a major production base for media products

Sony plans to resume production of Blu-ray and other optical discs at a tsunami-hit factory in northern Japan in late May, it said Thursday.

The company's Sendai Technology Center in the city of Tagajo is the only Sony plant still offline after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit eastern Japan on March 11. Numerous factories of major electronics makers were halted after the quake but few were directly hit by the tsunami like the Sony plant was.

It was inundated with about 1.5 meters of water, mud and debris that caused heavy damage to the first floor of the building. A visit to the factory in late March found workers clearing out mud and crushed cars from the facility. That work has continued and now Sony is anticipating the restart of some operations.

The factory is Sony's principle production base for professional video tapes, blank Blu-ray Discs and other media products, and the halt in production caused a pinch on supply of some professional media products like HDCAM video tapes for portable TV cameras.

While the optical disc production will start in late May, production of magnetic tapes, such as those for TV cameras, isn't likely to resume until late July.

Sony said it plans to move production of other products and components previously manufactured in Tagajo to other factories to speed resumption of their production.

Sony also said it plans to help regional recovery efforts, and will consider offering vacant office space to local businesses and assign staff to help with local support work.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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