Japan to iron out Kobe Steel woes

Kobe Steel data fabrication scandal hits satellite-launching rocket

Kobe Steel data fabrication scandal hits satellite-launching rocket

In an internal audit, it was found that the company had corroborated data on the characteristics of multiple aluminum and copper parts and components.

Investors looked set to bail out of Kobe Steel Ltd on Tuesday, after Japan's third-biggest steelmaker revealed it had fabricated data to show its products met customer specifications in the latest scandal to rock corporate Japan. The affected products are supplied to some 200 companies including Subaru, Toyota, Honda and Boeing. The company did not say which engines used the affected products. The false data has been linked back to four aluminium factories in Japan, and for some items, the practice goes back almost 10 years, the executive vice president, Naoto Umehara confirmed.

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. Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi are also top customers of Kobe Steel and said they are checking whether their vehicles are affected. For its part, Toyota said the news is a "grave issue".

Toyota said it had found Kobe Steel materials, for which the supplier falsified data, in bonnets, doors and peripheral areas.

The automotive industry in Japan has been rocked by a metal data falsification scandal.

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So far, Honda has said the steel was used for auto doors and hoods, though it is unclear how much was used or the extent.

"We perceive that there was no problem as the rocket launch was a success", he said.

Subaru has produced training planes for Japan's Self-Defence Forces and wings for Boeing jets such as the Boeing Dreamliner, according to a spokesman, who said the company was checking which planes and parts used the affected aluminium. "Checks are under way, but at this point no large effects have been found in the manufacture of the rocket or MRJ".

The company said that its Chairman, President and Chief Executive Hiroya Kawasaki would chair an investigation committee, and that a law firm would be hired to probe conduct. "If the aluminium business doesn't work out well, I question where the company can make money", given that profitability at the mainstay steel business remained low, he said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Tuesday it was tracking the case. "We urge the company to make efforts to recover the trust of society as a whole, not just its customers".

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In all, about 200 Japanese companies are impacted, including a number of vehicle manufacturers, as well as the Central Japan Railway, or JR Tokai.

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

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

Kobe Steel has said the impact of the data falsification on its earnings is still unknown.

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