Kobe Steel admits it falsified product data

Ivan Schwartz
October 11, 2017

Japan's government sought on Tuesday to contain the fallout from the disclosure by the nation's third-biggest steel maker, Kobe Steel, that it had fabricated data on components used in cars, aircraft and space rockets, sending shock waves through the Japanese manufacturing sector.

The company said the fabrications, which might have started a decade ago, could affect products sent to as many as 200 companies.

Aluminum is widely used in cars, planes and high-speed trains in Japan which use the light-weight metal to increase fuel efficiency.

The company said on Sunday that about 4 percent of the aluminium and copper products it shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labelled as meeting customer specifications.

The false data supplied to automakers was meant to make metals look like they met clients' quality standards.

After conducting an in-house probe Kobe Steel admitted Sunday that it had shipped products that did not meet client specifications, including strength data. Also Boeing Co., which gets some parts from Subaru, said there's nothing to date that raises any safety concerns. The metal was delivered to more than 200 companies.

The scandal, the most recent one of a series of misconducts by Japanese manufacturers, threatens to further damage the reputation of "Made-in-Japan", said local reports.

The company's stock ended 22% lower in Tokyo as customers including Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Subaru said they had used materials from Kobe Steel that were subject to falsification. "We recognise that this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue".

Honda equally said it used the falsified material from Kobe Steel in auto doors and hoods while Mazda Motor Corp. confirmed it uses aluminum from the company.

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Toyota confirmed that it has used aluminium with falsified strength and durability ratings in its doors and other outer areas.

Hitachi said the Kobe Steel materials were used in its trains exported to the United Kingdom.

Aluminium castings, forgings and flat-rolled items, along with copper strips and tubes were among the products affected, the company said in a statement.

Suzuki Motor and Mitsubishi Motors said they were checking whether their vehicles were affected.

So far, Honda has said the steel was used for vehicle doors and hoods, though it is unclear how much was used or the extent. "Checks are under way, but at this point no large effects have been found in the manufacture of the rocket or MRJ".

Kobe Steel's aluminium and copper operations account for about 20% of total sales, according to data for the quarter ended June 30.

"We want Kobe Steel to make the utmost effort to restore trust from society", he said.

It was not clear whether it would affect the safety of their products.

Nissan last week recalled more than 1-million cars in Japan.

Other reports by GizPress

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