Japan's Kobe Steel reports wider fudging of metals data

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                                                            |By Yuka Obayashi

Image Zoom |By Yuka Obayashi

Companies from Japan and overseas are investigating whether safety of their products has been compromised.

After admitting Sunday that it provided false information about the strength and durability of some aluminum and copper, Japan's third-largest steel producer said data about iron ore powder and another product may also have been faked. They included Toyota Motor Corp, Central Japan Railway, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor Corp and Subaru Corp, the companies confirmed. It could also undermine confidence in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to improve corporate governance as part of his program of Abenomics. Conglomerate Toshiba Corp 6502.T is still battling the fallout of a scandal over reporting inflated profits.

If you are aware of any facts relating to this investigation, or purchased Kobe Steel shares, you can assist this investigation by visiting the firm's site: www.bgandg.com/kbsty.

An internal probe has revealed that data were fabricated for about 19,300 tons of aluminum products, 2,200 tons of copper products and 19,400 units of aluminum castings and forgings shipped to clients between September 2016 through August 2017.

The company has said it was examining possible data falsification going back 10 years - a familiar echo of a string of other cheating scandals involving Japan inc. It apologized and said it had appointed lawyers to investigate.

"These are improper actions that could shake the foundation of fair trade", Yasuji Komiyama, director of the industry ministry's metal industries division, told reporters at a briefing on the revelations.

"It seems in some cases quality control was undertaken by veteran employees who had lots of experience, highly trusted within the organisation, and somehow these discrepancies slipped by them", company spokesperson Gary Tsuchida said. "But we are still investigating and it's premature to say" if recalls will be necessary or not, he said.

A Kobe spokesman told Reuters the firm is working with customers to check for any issues.

Aircraft maker Boeing said it, too, is looking into the problem.

Hitachi said its new trains in Britain used Kobe Steel but had all passed rigorous tests.

"We can't rule out the possibility that the external investigation will find other cases", Katsukawa said, adding no customers had raised any safety issues or stopped buying its products.

Akihiro Tada, director of the ministry's Manufacturing Industries Bureau, urged the company to move quickly in resolving the problems, which are thought to have affected numerous country's largest manufacturers.

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