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Kobe plunges on metals products scandal

11 October, 2017, 00:23 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • Copper Pipe

Aluminum is widely used in cars, planes and high-speed trains in Japan which use the light-weight metal to increase fuel efficiency.

Kobe Steel said on October 8 that it had supplied aluminium and copper products mislabelled as meeting specifications agreed with customers.

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

The admission from the steel and aluminium maker follows scandals involving falsified data at household names such as Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Motors and Takata, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Also Boeing Co., which gets some parts from Subaru, said there's nothing to date that raises any safety concerns.

It said that inspection data on the products, including those on strength and duration of the materials, were rewritten by workers who were "under pressure" to meet a deadline when the actual data failed to meet customer specifications.

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.

After Kobe Steel Co. said Sunday that it had falsified data related to strength and durability of some aluminum and copper products, customers including Toyota and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said they are investigating the impact on safety of their products.

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

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

Also Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which is charge of the MRJ regional jet and the H-IIA rocket launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Tuesday for a satellite, said the firm's aluminum was used but no defects were found yet as the launch was a complete success according to a spokesperson, Genki Ono.

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

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

"Aluminum is a strategic business for Kobe Steel", said Irisawa at Tachibana Securities.

In other recent Japanese product-related cases, Takata pleaded guilty in the USA in February to one count of wire fraud for misleading vehicle makers about the safety of its exploding air bags.

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