Unlike many towns in Japan, the village of Ohira in Miyagi prefecture was relatively unscathed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It is located 20 miles northwest of Sendai Bay, a portion of Japan's coastline that’s nearest to the epicenter. Toyota Motor Corp. has built car and car-supply plants in the region.
Ohira has done well for itself during the year that was troubled for Toyota and Japan. The tsunami devastated the Sendai Shiogama port.
The warehouses were blown open and cars were scattered like they were cans. But as Ohira lies inland, the damage to the village was minimal and included only cracked walls, a torqued pavement and some bended utility poles.
Ohira was fortunate too because it didn’t feel the full impact of the financial crisis. There are enough good jobs in Ohira to prevent its young people from moving to Tokyo and Osaka. During a workday, over 2,000 commuters come in to add to its population of 5,500.
Tokyo-based Oki Electric Industry Co., which makes servers and automated teller machines, runs a factory in Ohira. Who hasn’t heard of zipper maker YKK Corp.? Yes, it’s also located in Ohira.
In fact, 80% of the revenue in the village comes from corporate taxes. Toyota is its biggest company though. Just last January, Toyota’s Central Motor Co. unit opened a plant in Ohira that accommodated 900 workers that build Yaris compact cars.