AFTER QUAKE, KOBE’S TEXTILE INDUSTRY REVIVING

Byline:

NEW YORK — The textile industry in Japan’s Kobe-Osaka area is getting back into operation after last Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake.
“Many [of the dead] were employed in the textile mills,” said a spokesman for the office of textiles at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) here.
By Monday, some 5,000 deaths had been reported.
“But the businesses are getting going again,” he said.
As of Monday morning, about 20 of the nearly 50 dyeing and finishing plants in and around Kobe — one of Japan’s major textile-producing areas and a chief shipping port of textiles to the U.S. — and nearby Osaka, were running at about 50 percent production capacity.
The half dozen or so major textile mills in the area were hoping to resume production “within the next three or four weeks,” said the JETRO spokesman.
In addition, the Japan Chemical Fibers Association, a national organization of man-made fiber producers, said there have been no reports of damage from its members. DuPont, which had closed its Lycra plant in Shiga prefecture, near Osaka, reopened it last Wednesday and is back to full production, a DuPont spokesman said.
U.S. print converters said that based on the latest reports they’ve gotten from Japan, fabrics could be moving shortly from Kobe and Osaka, while some rerouted fabrics could be leaving Yokohama this week.
“From some conversations I’ve had, the port of Kobe has the ability to get goods moving within a short period of time,” said Martin Marcus, president and chief executive officer of Marcus Bros. “I’ve heard that any dislocation of goods will be modest and short. However, one has to wonder if that’s just Japan trying to put its best face forward in the midst of all this.”
Barney Kelley, a partner at Nuance, said, “We’re starting to sort out what our situation is in Japan, and we seem to be OK. A couple of shipments got stuck at Kobe, and we’re replacing them.”
However, Kelley, whose firm contracts between six and 10 dyers and finishers in the Kobe-Osaka area at any given time, said, “It’s still very difficult. We don’t have all the information yet.”
In some other market quarters, the earthquake could have significant long-term implications.
Kobe’s Fukuhara Industrial & Trading Co., a major source of circular knitting machines — old in the U.S. as Monarch Knitting Machines — suffered considerable damage. David Pernick, president of Monarch Knitting Machinery Corp., Glendale, N.Y., sales representative for the machines in North America, Europe and Africa, said, “There is damage to the factory, to what extent we don’t know. One office building has been destroyed. There have been injuries and at least three deaths to members of employee families. We are still trying to sort it out. They are afraid of aftershocks.”

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