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Japan's Kobe Steel reports wider manipulation of metals data as scandal deepens
12 October 2017, 11:00 | Cesar Cruz
Kobe Steel confirms data tampering in iron powder products, research unit
The stock dived 22% on Tuesday to finish at 1,068 yen ($9.50), its maximum daily loss limit-wiping nearly a billion dollars off the firm's market value.
Kobe Steel President Hiroya Kawasaki warned on Thursday there may be more cases of falsified product data, in a sign the unfolding scandal may worsen.
Kobe Steel also admitted Wednesday that it was in talks with one client who received steel powder that did not match specifications.
Japan's famous "Shinkansen" bullet trains also used Kobe Steel's aluminium, as did high-speed trains in Britain, according to engineering firm Hitachi. "But we are still investigating and it's premature to say" if recalls will be necessary or not, he said.
Concern has spread across a range of industries - including vehicle, train and aircraft manufacturers - that source materials from Kobe Steel. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ordered Kobe Steel to report on the results of safety checks within about two weeks and the reasons for the tampering, along with prevention measures in under a month.
There have been previous cases in Japan involving falsified data, including at Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Motors and Takata, which filed for bankruptcy this year over faulty airbags that were blamed for 17 deaths and scores of injuries. Conglomerate Toshiba Corp is still battling the fallout of a scandal over reporting inflated profits.
Mr. Tsuge said Central Japan Railway would replace the parts when the affected trains underwent regular inspections, something that happens roughly once a year. "The credibility of Kobe Steel has plunged to zero".
Industry ministry officials said Kobe Steel materials were used in some defense equipment made by Kawasaki Heavy, MHI, IHI Corp and Subaru and checks were being made for any safety issues. The government has urged Kobe Steel to clarify the extent of the misconduct.
The Japanese government has asked the company to provide more information about the products supplied to more than 200 customers, reportedly including some of the country's biggest manufacturers, including defence contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and a number of automakers.
In June of last year, it said an affiliate, Shinko Wire Stainless Co, falsified data on tests for tensile strength of some stainless steel wire for springs over a period of more than nine years.
The Japanese business World newspaper Nikkei announced that a subsidiary of Kobe Steel has been identified as a data fraud. The company said it was assessing its options.
"Data in inspection certificates had been improperly rewritten. and the products were shipped as having met the specifications concerned", Kobe Steel admitted in a statement, acknowledging that the misrepresentation was "improper conduct".
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