The president of Japan's major chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. said Sunday that the partial suspension of its plant in eastern Japan due to a recent fire could result in a substantial cut in its supply of chips to its customers including automakers.

The fire on Friday at the Naka plant in Ibaraki Prefecture could have "a very large impact" on its ability to supply chips to automakers, which are already grappling with a global chip shortage, Renesas President and CEO Hidetoshi Shibata said in an online press conference.

Supplied photo shows Renesas Electronics Corp.'s Naka plant in Ibaraki Prefecture after a fire on March 19, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Renesas Electronics Corp.)(Kyodo)

While the company is considering increasing chip production at other factories in an effort to make up for lost output at the Naka plant, Shibata said, "We hope to resume operation (of the halted plant) within a month."

Plating equipment in one of the buildings housing production lines at the plant caught fire due to a surge in current, burning 600 square meters, or around 5 percent, of the building's clean room area, according to Renesas.

Chips are running short globally due to growing demand for use in digital products, forcing some automakers to cut production.