The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has received word that Japanese ports sustained major damage from the recent earthquake and tsunami in that country, but the effect on Japan’s grain imports is still not fully known.

Tokyo and all ports south were operating normally after briefly shutting down following the disasters. Also hit hard was the Port of Sendai. The rest of the country’s ports are being assessed for damage. USSEC executes checkoff-funded activities to increase sales of U.S. soy abroad.

Roy Bardole, a soybean farmer from Rippey, Iowa, chairman of USSEC and vice-chairman of United Soybean Board (USB)’s international marketing and global opportunities committees, said both organizations are keeping a close eye on the situation. “On a personal level, we are relieved that none of USSEC’s Japan staff were injured,” Bardole said. “We will be monitoring and reporting on the disaster’s impact on the U.S. soy industry and identifying ways we can provide assistance to the Japanese during this difficult time.”

Jim Echle, USSEC’s country director in Japan, said the key U.S. soybean ports of Shiogama, Tomakomai, Kamaishi, Ishinomaki and Kashima were hit the hardest by the tsunami.

It is reported they can't receive any Panamax ships. The Kashima port also has damage to its silo. The ports of Hachinohe and Kushiro (in Hokkaido) were less damaged.