Carmakers halt production across Japan

Japanese automakers are temporarily halting production as the country copes with its biggest natural disaster in years.

Following news that Toyota is temporarily closing all of its Japanese assembly plants, Leftlane has learned that other automakers will follow suit as the country attempts to collect itself from the devastating earthquakes and tsunami waves that continue to wreak havoc.

Mazda says that it is closing its Hiroshima and Hofu plants through the end of March 16, although the automaker acknowledges that it could announce further closures soon. The automaker builds most of its global models in Japan. For the North American market, the Hiroshima plant builds the Mazda2, Mazda5, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mazda RX-8, Mazda CX-9 and Mazda CX-7. In Hofu, the automaker builds the Mazda3.

Honda, meanwhile, says it will suspend all Japanese production until March 20. The automaker had closed most of its plants following the earthquake, but it kept a motorcycle plant operational on Kyushu, far from the earthquake's Sendai epicenter. That plant has also joined the list of closed facilities. Honda builds a wide variety of models exported to North America in Japan, including versions of its Honda Civic, Honda Accord and Honda Insight.

Nissan will halt operations at its Tochigi and Iwaki plants through March 18, while all of its Japanese plants will be closed until at least March 16. Nissan builds 22 percent of its global products in Japan, including the GT-R and 370Z in Tochigi.

Look for more closure-related announcements to come soon. Automakers that rely heavily on exported models - especially Mazda - will no doubt suffer some product shortages should closures continue, but the country is conserving power in order to help those in need in Northern Japan.