Japan's business confidence fell after last month's tsunami disaster and the ensuing nuclear crisis, and manufacturers were feeling more pessimistic about the economy, the central bank said Monday.
The Bank of Japan's closely watched "tankan" survey of business sentiment showed the main index for large manufacturers slumped to 6 after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, down from 7 before the disasters.
The index of sentiment among big manufacturers in the next three months tumbled to minus 2 from 6. That among small-and mid-sized manufacturers in the coming three months also plummeted to minus 18 from minus 6.
The tankan figure represents the percentage of companies saying business conditions are good minus those saying conditions are unfavorable, with 100 representing the best mood and minus-100 the worst.
The central bank released a post-quake version of its March tankan survey to reflect the impact of the disasters and the nuclear crisis they spawned on the country's business sentiment.
"The results underscored growing worries among all manufactures after the tsunami," said Yoko Takeda, an economist at Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc. "Some companies lost their factories in the tsunami, while many others were forced to shut down production due to massive disruptions in supply chains."
Last month's magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami decimated much of northern Japan, killing up to 25,000 people. More than 12,000 are confirmed dead, and another 15,500 are missing.
The March 11 disaster also destroyed many plants in the region, forcing a string of companies, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp., to suspend output due to a shortage in components.
The quake and tsunami also damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s nuclear plant in Fukushima, forcing it to cut its daily power supply in Tokyo and its environs. Power shortages forced many factories to suspend output.
The tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant has continued to spew radiation which has made its way into vegetables, raw milk, tap water in Tokyo, and now the ocean.
Japan's government has said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast could reach $309 billion, making it the world's most expensive natural disaster on record.
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