Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said on Monday it had suspended all production in Japan after a possible cyber attack on a major supplier.
The discontinuation followed a problem with computer systems at Kojima Industries, a maker of auto components, that disrupted the company’s ordering systems. A company spokesperson said that the problem first surfaced on Saturday night, and the company decided to shut down its computer network to prevent the problem from spreading to customers.
Kojima Industries has not yet been able to determine the cause of the problem, but it suspects a cyber attack or virus. The company’s website remained down on Monday evening.
In remarks at a press conference on the situation in Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government was aware of Toyota’s shutdown and was investigating the cause.
Cyber attacks have become increasingly common in Japan in recent years. Japanese companies have been slow to modernize their networks to take into account the growing use of ransomware by criminals, as well as government interventions. The most common targets for attacks have been manufacturers, who can essentially hold computer systems and valuable data hostage.
Like many other automakers, Toyota was forced to drastically reduce production after the pandemic wreaked havoc on global supply chains and led to shortages of semiconductors and other components.
Last year, after the initial waves of the virus passed and global demand for cars increased, Toyota announced optimistic plans to produce 9.3 million units worldwide by March 31, the end of the fiscal year.
But the increasing demand for semiconductors and frequent waves of infection forced the company to reduce those plans first to nine million and then in February to eight and a half million.
Even before the problems at Kojima Industries, Toyota planned a temporary shutdown in March at several plants in Japan due to a shortage of parts.
A Toyota spokeswoman said that the suspension announced on Monday includes 14 local Toyota factories and will affect the production of 13,000 cars, adding that the company cannot yet say how long the factories will remain idle.
Despite the setbacks, Toyota has been able to use lessons learned during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan to adapt to the pandemic’s disruptions better than its competitors, topping global auto sales charts for two consecutive years.
Hino, a Toyota subsidiary that makes heavy trucks and buses, said in a statement Monday that it will temporarily halt production at two plants due to problems with an unspecified supplier. Another subsidiary, Daihatsu, has also halted some production, according to local media reports.
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