TOKYO >> The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has dealt an additional blow to areas in eastern Japan that were devastated by Typhoon Hagibis in October.
Six months have passed since the typhoon struck, but local economies are unable to recover as the spread of the coronavirus causes new harm in places that were flooded during the disaster.
Facilities of 258 companies at the Koriyama Central Industrial Park in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, for instance, were hit by Hagibis. That’s 92% of tenants, with with almost all of them damaged due to flooding of area rivers. That damage exceeded $373.3 million.
Today, about 30% remain unable to fully resume operations.
“The future is still not in sight,” one manager lamented.
Since March this year, however, many events have been canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“Because the Tokyo Olympics were postponed, all our work related to the torch relay, which was scheduled to start in Fukushima Prefecture, was canceled,” said a senior executive of the company.
According to the Koriyama city government, about 70% of companies in the industrial complex are fully operational. The other 30% are either partially open or completely dormant.
Some companies have left.
In December, Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. decided to relocate its Koriyama branch to another prefecture.
“The decision was made for the safety of our employees and the stable supply of our products,” a Hitachi spokesperson said.
In January, the city surveyed the park’s companies about their needs and set up an office on site. Among the services it provides is information about government assistance.
The city is also mediating the relocation of businesses to other Koriyama sites, to keep them in the city.
But there is still concern that some businesses will decide to halt operations because of the coronavirus.
“This situation is beyond what we imagined,” said a city government official.