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Western Japan quake wreaks havoc on local phone services

People check their cell phones as they sit on the pavement in Osaka's Chuo Ward on June 18, 2018 following a major earthquake. (Mainichi)
A convenience store in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, continues to welcome customers after a powerful earthquake struck western Japan, on the morning of June 18, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- People have been struggling to get through to loved-ones and others by phone in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures since a powerful quake hit the area on the morning of June 18, mobile carriers said.

KDDI Corp. said it is difficult for phone calls to get through to fixed-line phones on its network within the 06 area code in the city of Osaka and neighboring areas. According to NTT Docomo Corp., people are having difficulty connecting with mobile phones on its network in some areas of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

NTT Docomo launched a disaster message board on its website for people to post messages on whether they are safe and other quake-related information.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp. (NTT West) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. (NTT East) launched an emergency message service where people can leave and listen to voice messages by dialing 171.

Meanwhile, major convenience store operator Lawson Inc. said there were cash register communication failures at five of its outlets, including those in the northern Osaka Prefecture cities of Toyonaka and Suita. Staffers at these stores used pocket calculators to come up with totals and change amounts. Moreover, automatic teller machines are not functioning at 10 of its outlets in the same area.

Lawson officials suspect that the trouble is due to a power cut, but are trying to clarify the exact cause of the problem. Company officials furthermore stated that product deliveries to Lawson stores could be delayed due to the closure of local expressways.

Factory operations have also been impacted in areas struck by the quake. Daihatsu Motor Co. has suspended operations at its main factory in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, and at its plant in Oyamazaki, Kyoto Prefecture. There are no reports of injuries at these facilities following the quake.

"We're confirming whether the disaster will affect our production activities," a company official said.

Honda Motor Co. also suspended operations at its factory in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, to confirm the facility's safety. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. also stopped operations at its engine factories in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures. Some of the windows were broken at the Kyoto factory, company officials said. The two companies will resume production at these facilities if they are confirmed safe.

(By Arimasa Mori, Akane Imamura and Hironori Takechi, Tokyo Business News Department)

(Related links)

*NTT's "DisasterMessage Board web171":

https://www.web171.jp/web171app/disasterTop.do?english

*NTT Docomo's "Disaster Message Board":

http://dengon.docomo.ne.jp/Einoticelist.cgi?es=0

*NTT East's "Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171)":

https://www.ntt-east.co.jp/en/saigai/voice171/

*NTT East's service report for "Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171)":

https://www.ntt-east.co.jp/en/saigai/news/

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