Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Money | By Charlene Sutton

Japan to iron out Kobe Steel woes

Japan to iron out Kobe Steel woes

Kobe Steel was untraded as sell orders dwarfed buy orders after Japan's third-biggest steelmaker revealed it had fabricated data to falsely show that its products met customer specifications.

Toyota Motor, Central Japan Railway, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor and Subaru were among affected customers, Reuters added, citing media reports and statements. The metal was delivered to more than 200 companies. 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.

"Nothing in our review to date leads us to conclude that this issue presents a safety concern", it said.

Doors and hoods are also affected at Nissan, a spokesman confirmed.

Toyota called the revelations a "grave issue", and said it was making checks on where the components were used and what effect they have on products using them.

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The products in question have been shipped to about some 200 companies, and though Kobe Steel did not disclose the names of companies affected, a wide range of companies have been found using the problematic products in cars, trains, and even rockets and defense equipments.

Kobe Steel CEO Kawasaki has run the company since 2013, and has recently overseen moves to expand its presence in aluminium.

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

MHI said Kobe Steel products were used on its Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rockets, including a H-2A rocket launched on Tuesday to put a navigation satellite into orbit.

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

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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.

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

"This is a serious matter that shakes the foundation of fair commercial transactions", Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry metal industries division Director Yasuji Komiyama said.

"We want Kobe Steel to make the utmost effort to restore trust from society", he said. Shinko Wire Co., a Kobe Steel affiliate, in 2016 said a unit had misstated data on the strength of stainless wires for springs and that it had supplied customers with alloy that failed to meet industrial standards.

Analysts say the development further tarnishes the reputation of Japan's globe-trotting manufacturers, long celebrated for their high-quality products.

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