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Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s assembly plant in Iwaki, Japan, was severely damaged in the March 11 earthquake. Months later, it's back to full production.

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Japan's automotive industry lost significant market share in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami last March. After months of silence, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s severely damaged plant in Iwaki -- about 100 kilometres from Fukushima -- is once again turning out engines, transmissions, cars and trucks as part of a remarkable recovery of the country's auto industry.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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When Karou Eguchi, deputy general of the Iwaki plant, returned to work the day after the quake, he thought the plant was finished. Parts of ceilings had collapsed, overhead conveyer belts had fallen, equipment was toppled, and the machining shop floor had buckled and cracked.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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Part of the floor in the plant's crankshaft machining shop fell 15 centimetres in the quake.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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About 200 people from the plant's own work force, another Nissan factory and a supplier showed up on the Monday after the quake and started repairing the wiring, plumbing, ceilings and floors. Teams competed with each other to restore their section of the plant more quickly.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Eguchi, right, and manager Daisuke Kinugasa pose with messages sent to the damaged Nissan plant from abroad. In April, an aftershock opened up cracks and damaged parts of the plant that had been repaired.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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A plant worker oversees the pouring of molten aluminum. After the quake, employees rushed to put out a fire sparked when the tremors caused the aluminum to spill.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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Cracks in the floor caused by the earthquake are still visible. Japan's auto makers, who collaborated closely in the aftermath of the quake, have changed some of their production practices, such as keeping more inventory on hand.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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While Japan-based automotive companies are back at full production again, they face the difficult challenge of winning back consumers who have flocked to the Detroit Three, insurgent South Koreans and ambitious Europeans. Above, a plant employee assembles engines.

Junko Kimura/junko kimura The Globe and Mail

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