12 Oct 2017

Japan steel scandal sparks car, train checks

8:01 am on 12 October 2017

Japanese car, train and aircraft makers are investigating whether they have used any substandard materials after Kobe Steel admitted it falsified quality control data possibly for as long as a decade.

Toyota, Nissan and Honda are among companies examining their products.

Kobe Steel executive vice-president Naoto Umehara a media conference on the the falsified quality control data.

Kobe Steel executive vice-president Naoto Umehara (centre) at a media conference on the the falsified quality control data. Photo: AFP

Kobe Steel said late on Wednesday it found 70 cases of tampered data on materials used in optical disks and liquid crystal displays at its Kobelco Research Institute Inc, which makes and tests products for the company.

It also found one case of falsified data on iron powder products shipped to a customer.

An internal probe carried out since it found issues in its aluminium and copper business has not found other cases of data tampering, Yoshihiko Katsukawa, a managing executive officer at Kobe Steel, told a news conference.

He said the company - which has said it was examining possible data falsifications going back 10 years - has begun an external investigation of all its units, including those overseas.

Hitachi said its new trains in Britain used Kobe Steel but had all passed rigourous tests, while US plane manufacturer Boeing said it had not found any safety issues.

Meanwhile, Mazda said it used aluminium made by Kobe in car bonnets.

"We are still investigating what vehicles that metal is in and deciding what action we need to take. We won't know if we need to take any action until those investigations are complete," a spokesperson said.

And Honda said aluminium produced by Kobe Steel had been used in doors and bonnets of some of its cars.

The new revelations come after Kobe Steel admitted at the weekend it had falsified data about the quality of aluminium and copper products used in cars, aircraft, space rockets and defence equipment - a fresh blow to Japanese manufacturers' reputation for quality production.

Shares in Kobe Steel fell by about $1.6 billion in two days as investors, worried about the financial impact and potential legal fallout, dumped Kobe Steel stock.

The Japanese government has told the firm to check for any illegal conduct that could affect the safety of those products.

- Reuters / BBC

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