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Buffett says disasters and Olympus doesn't change view on Japan industry

posted 21 Nov 2011, 04:47 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Nov 2011, 04:48 ]

Warren Buffett says that his view on Japanese industry hasn't been changed by March disaster or scandals at Olympus.

IWAKI CITY, FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE, JAPAN (NOVEMBER 21, 2011) (TV TOKYO) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Monday (November 21) that his view on Japanese industry has not changed following the March earthquake or in the wake of the Olympus scandal and that he was looking for opportunities in the country.

Buffett made his first visit to Japan to open a new factory of cutting tool maker Tungaloy Corp. in Iwaki City in Fukushima, north-eastern Japan. Tungaloy Corp is a firm in which Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc holds an 80 percent stake.

The factory is located about 40 km (25 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has been leaking radiation since it was wrecked by the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami.

Buffett was originally set to visit Japan on March 22, but the trip was postponed due to the earthquake.

Arriving at the factory Buffet was met by about 400 staff from Tungaloy Corp.

Buffet posed for photos with fellow factory officials outside the new factory.

The factory staff gathered for a group photo on the front lawn of the factory holding a sign that read: 'Never give-up, Fukushima' in English and Japanese.

Greeted with applause, Buffet toured the factory and conducted the official ribbon cutting ceremony to signify the opening of the new work space.

The area of Fukushima where the new factory stands was one of the worst hit following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th.

However, the quick reaction and determination of the Japanese people has only strengthened Buffett's decision to invest in Japan.

"My view, my view of the Japanese people, my view of Japanese industry is unchanged. I've just had a demonstration in the last nine months of the fact that, that something like the tsunami could produce an interruption, that it could not stop, Japan's business it could not stop the Japanese people but I would have expected that. I really have no have no difference in my investment outlook," Buffett told a news conference.

There has been some speculation by Japanese media whether the recent Olympus scandal would affect Buffett's decision to invest in Japan, although Buffett himself shot down those rumours.

"Olympus doesn't change my view at all on Japanese investments anymore than a similar type of occurrence in the United States would change my view there, I mean, periodically something happens in an important business in the United States, in Europe, in Asia wherever. That's a big surprise to everybody but that doesn't change the fundamental investment outlook for the country or hundreds of other business that operate there," Buffet said when asked about the company.

Tungaloy, formerly part of industrial conglomerate Toshiba Corp, supplies automakers with super hard tools used to cut, groove and turn engine parts. Tungaloy is wholly owned by IMC International Metalworking Companies.

Earlier this year after the March 11th earthquake Buffet's comments that Japan was a significant buying opportunity gave a solid boost to Japan's Nikkei average.