Kobe Steel scandal widens, with Chinese factories involved: report

Updated 2017-10-16 09:00:53 Global Times

Japanese Kobe Steel admitted on Friday to falsifying inspection data on nine other products, widening the scandal at the steelmaker that had said earlier in the day it shipped wire rods for automobiles that did not meet safety requirements, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

Kobe Steel said it now estimated that it had shipped substandard or potentially substandard materials to about 500 customers, noted the Xinhua report. It had already admitted that its products, with falsified data about their strength and durability, had been sold to about 200 companies globally.

The steelmaker was disclosed to have fabricated data for its iron powder, aluminum and copper products used by companies including makers of vehicles, trains and aircraft, sectors where safety is an important issue.

As the data fabrication scandal continued, Kobe Steel said nine of its subsidiaries including those in Thailand, Malaysia and China, had engaged in improper behavior such as altering test results and failing to conduct mandatory product checks.

"We are trying to understand how this could possibly happen at so many subsidiaries, including overseas," said Kobe Steel President and CEO Hiroya Kawasaki at a news conference on Friday.

Gary Tsuchida, a spokesman for Kobe Steel, told the China-based Caijing on Friday that "its customers are doing the product checks and no quality issue has occurred at the moment."

According to the Caijing report, the Kobe Steel manufacturers in China include Suzhou Kobe Copper Technology Co, Jiangyin Sugita Fasten Spring Wire Co and Kobelco Spring Wire (Foshan) Co.

Kawasaki said Thursday that no recalls on products will be made at the moment, and the results of safety inspections on shipped products will be available within two weeks, according to the Xinhua report.

The cause of the scandal that has affected vehicle giants such as Toyota, Mazda and General Motors, would also be made known within a month, Kawasaki added.

A PR representative of Toyota China said the domestically made Toyota vehicles including those made by joint ventures with Chinese automakers FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co had not been affected and imported ones are still undergoing checks, according to a Bloomberg report on Tuesday.

Mazda China and GAC Mitsubishi Motors Co gave similar statements.

However, Ford Motor China said the engine hoods of Mondeo sedans made by Changan Ford Automobile Co and sold in China, had used the aluminum products from Kobe Steel, the paper.cn reported on Friday.

The Japanese steelmaker has not confirmed whether the auto part had been affected by the aluminum issue, said Ford Motor China. It added that the engine hood does not relate to a safety issue as it is not a structural component.

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