Sony has denied reports that it may delay the global release of its next-generation PlayStation Portable gaming handheld after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last month led to production disruptions. In a Bloomberg report yesterday, Sony America president Jack Tretton was cited as saying the NGP could be introduced in a single region this year instead of starting sales in more than one market in time for the end-of-year holiday shopping season.

A scaled back launch could hurt the company's position in the portable games market as Nintendo is already shipping the 3DS and seeing record sales numbers. Trying to look at the glass half full, however, Tretton said that a delayed worldwide release will help developers work on their launch titles.

But today the Nikkei is reporting that this statement was wrong; apparently Sony will stick to their original plan to begin releasing the handheld in steps later this year and so far the quake has not affected the rollout schedule. Sony has never shared any specific launch details so it's hard to tell if plans haven't changed at all, or if Sony is just doing some damage control to make sure developers don't hold off making games pending a more specific status for the NGP.

In brighter and somewhat related news the company just revealed that the PlayStation Network-driven relief efforts for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster have raised over $1 million so far. The initiative was set up last month to allow anyone logging into PSN to donate a sum to charity from their accounts. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross's Japanese relief fund, the British Red Cross in Europe, and the Central Community Chest of Japan.