A manufacturing and shipping halt in Japan could effect NE Ohio

CLEVELAND - Susan Helper from Case Western University was in Japan just days before the earthquake and tsunami hit. The Chair of the Case's Economic Department was surveying automotive manufacturing plants for the U.S. Department of Labor.

"It's just devastating and shocking," Helper said. "To see people outside of Tokyo, and their buildings swaying. I was just there."

After the quake, virtually all Japanese carmakers stopped production because of damage or rolling blackouts. Roads are impassable, towns are destroyed and aid workers are focusing on survivors. Shipments from Japan's major automakers have been postponed indefinitely.

"There are parts that are hard to replace coming from japan," Helper said. "That's a problem."

Workers at National Tire & Battery in Cleveland say they expect to feel the ripple effect from Japan within months.

"We may not see an immediate price increase or lack of product," said manager Randy Cherer. "But I think we're going to drastically get hit by that."

The Greater Cleveland Automotive Dealers Association said they had not heard any updates about shipments or parts coming from Japan. The dealers plan to stock up with what is available.

A spokesperson from General Motors sent this statement in an e-mail to NewsChannel5:

"We are assessing the situation with our Japanese suppliers. Currently, there is no impact on production at any GM facility. We will remain in close contact with them as we work our way through this issue and determine if there will be any impact."

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