October 21, 2017
TOKYO- Kobe Steel Ltd. said Friday that supervisory employees at one of its plants had covered up data fabrication during internal checks over the firm's product quality certification scandal.The embattled major Japanese steelmaker will set up an investigative committee comprising outside exerts to grasp the whole picture of the scandal.
A new data fabrication case has also been found for a steel product while the possibility has emerged that the company breached a law related to the Japanese Industrial Standards, highlighting afresh its corporate culture of neglecting product quality.
Naoto Umehara, executive vice president of Kobe Steel, offered an apology at a press conference in Tokyo. "We are sorry that the cover-ups were found at a time when we are making efforts to discover all past manipulation cases," he said.
"We cannot completely deny more data falsification cases will be found," Umehara said, admitting the possibility that the scandal may widen even further.
The cover-ups took place at the Chofu Works in the city of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, which manufactures aluminum products. Products made at the plant were found to have failed to meet specifications required by client companies. But the problem was not reported during the plant's inspections, and the nonconforming products were shipped, according to the company.
A similar cover-up was committed during an emergency inspection conducted by Kobe Steel's headquarters after the company realized a series of data manipulation cases.
The cover-ups came to light following information provided to the company's consultation desk.
In the newly discovered data fraud case, the thickness was not measured for a type of steel plate, and measured data were manipulated.
Between November 2015 and last month, 3,793 tons of the product were shipped to a client company. But Kobe Steel said that there is no safety problem with the product.
In addition, Kobe Steel said that test data on copper pipes certified under the JIS have been falsified. The Japan Quality Assurance Organization, a JIS certification body, has carried out an on-site inspection of a plant of a Kobe Steel group company.
If a violation of the industrial standardization law that sets the JIS standards is found, certifications granted to Kobe Steel products may be revoked. Jiji Press
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