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The sight of a lonely All Nippon Airways ULD, washed up at the badly hit Sendai Airport, speaks volumes. There are no words to express the sorrow one feels for the people of Japan.

And the repercussions will be felt throughout the world. According to the Seabury Global Trade Database, the biggest air freight market in and out of Japan is the US, which last year welcomed Japanese exports of 245,724 metric tons and sent 227,314 imports, followed by China, which exported 296,906 tons to Japan and imported 174,153 tons.

Seabury Global Trade Database: Japan’s top import/ export markets, air freight, 2010

1.) US

2.) China

3.) Taiwan

4.) Germany

5.) Thailand

6.) South Korea

7.) Hong Kong

8.) Malaysia

9.) Singapore

10.) Indonesia

In the near term, Goldman Sachs said there would be “extreme damage” across the electronics industry supply chain. Of course, Japan contributes significantly to the air cargo industry through its high-tech and automotive industries. According to an analyst at Nomura, exposure to Japanese components is highest at HTC, then Apple, Nokia, Research in Motion, Motorola Mobility and Sony Ericsson.

Operations were halted by Nissan, Honda and Toyota, and there were factory shutdowns at Toshiba, Canon, Panasonic and Sony, which has suspended production at eight plants.

Analysts believe it will be one or two months before production returns to normal. Toshiba, which makes semi-conductors and about 35% of the world’s NAND memory chips for Ipads and similar devices, was restarting production today at its chip factory in northern Japan.

Sony suspended production of semiconductor lasers at one plant, and of lithium ion secondary batteries at two plants – if they don’t reopen within two to three weeks Sony’s production will be reduced by 8 to 10 million cells – and competitors in countries such as China, which also houses much of Sony’s consumer goods factories, will ramp up production.

In addition to damage and staff shortages, rolling power cuts could also sabotage production, according to Shin Etsu Chemical, which makes wafers for semiconductors.

The affects on the supply chain will be felt worldwide. Taiwan, the third largest air freight market for Japan, and home to several major semi-conductor manufacturers, has been assessing how long its inventory of raw materials from Japanese suppliers will last. Most believe they can get by for one or two months.

Japan supplies about 50% of 12-inch wafers, and 30% of eight-inch wafers to Taiwan, ultimately affecting customers such as Apple and other PC and smartphone manufacturers.

But analysts believe long-term production won’t be affected. The country is working hard to avert any long-term economic affect, and The Bank of Japan has already pumped some $84 billion into the money markets. As the second largest holder of US government bonds, Japan is expected to sell off some to pay for repairs.

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