The 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011 struck just offshore of Nikon's Sendai plant, which made FX bodies and some parts for DX cameras. The plant (actually in a city just outside Sendai named Natori) was enough inland that it (barely) escaped the tsunami, but it sustained severe quake damage and was closed for several weeks while that was assessed and then fixed.
Likewise, the Tochigi plant that makes many high-end Nikkor lenses was within the area hit hard by the quake and sustained damage, though it re-opened quickly after the quake.
Nikon's headquarters and much of its other non-manufacturing buildings are in and around Tokyo, where the quake was felt, but no major damage was sustained.
At least one Nikon employee died in the quake and three were missing, all from the Sendai plant.
The biggest impacts to Nikon were:
- intermittent power outages due to the loss of so much nuclear power production in Northern Japan;
- some of Nikon's parts and materials suppliers were wiped out by the tsunami; and
- at least one camera model, the D800, was directly delayed due to the quake. At least one Coolpix camera model was cancelled due to loss of parts supply.
Canon, Fujifilm, Sony, and Panasonic all have manufacturing facilities of some photography-related items in the quake-affected area and had many of the same problems Nikon does in restoring supply chain and getting manufacturing fully up to speed.
As of late 2011, the Sendai plant was back online and producing products. By March 2012 it was at full capacity producing D4, D800, D800E, and the last of the D700 cameras.