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Kobe Steel Crisis Deepens As More Data Tampering Revealed; Shares Tumble
12 October 2017, 11:02 | Kelvin Horton
|By Yuka Obayashi
Analysts say the announcement further tarnishes the reputation of Japan's globe-trotting manufacturers, long celebrated for their high-quality products.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi Motor, Subaru and Mazda joined aviation firms and defence contractors Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and IHI that have used the steel maker's products.
On Wednesday, Kobe Steel added two more products to the list of affected materials: powdered steel, which is used to create molded steel products like gears, and "target material", a specialty mix of several kinds of metal used in the production of DVDs, television screens and other electronics equipment.
Japan's government sought on Tuesday to contain the fallout from the disclosure by the nation's third-biggest steel maker, Kobe Steel Ltd, that it had fabricated data on components used in cars, aircraft and space rockets, sending shock waves through the Japanese manufacturing sector.
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 could also undermine confidence in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to improve corporate governance as part of his program of Abenomics.
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.
It's not the first time Kobe Steel has been caught up in falsifying data.
Sales at Kobe Steel's aluminium and copper division fell 6.4 percent to 323.3 billion yen ($2.9 billion) in the year to March, and recurring profit dropped by more than a fifth to 12 billion yen. It apologized and said it had appointed lawyers to investigate.
Mr. Tsuge said Central Japan Railway would replace the parts when the affected trains underwent regular inspections, something that happens roughly once a year.
A Kobe spokesman told Reuters the firm is working with customers to check for any issues.
"Boeing has been working closely and continuously with our suppliers since being notified of the issue to ensure timely and appropriate action, including comprehensive inspections and analysis throughout our supply chain", the company said in an email. Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) supply parts to Boeing including for its 777 Dreamliner.
Honda users stated that C column of Civic sedans produced in Turkey was caused by Kobe Steel, while Honda Turkey made a statement about it. There were no technical problems with the components, MHI said.
Meanwhile, Mazda said it used aluminium made by Kobe in auto bonnets.
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