Mitsubishi units keep distance from parent's woes

Updated 2017-11-28 14:01:55 Global Times

Subsidiaries in China deny selling flawed products

Certain Chinese subsidiaries of Mitsubishi Materials Group (MMG) have sought to draw distinctions between their products and those of the 146-year-old Japanese material manufacturer after MMG admitted that two of its business units had manipulated data about their products.

A management executive at the Mitsubishi Materials (Shanghai) Corp, a subsidiary of MMG, stressed to the Global Times on Monday that what Mitsubishi Materials (Shanghai) sells (mostly superhard cutting tools), have nothing to do with products for which data was manipulated.

She also acknowledged that MMG has launched an investigation into which clients, including those in China, were affected by the data manipulation scandal. So far she has not heard of any results.

A spokesperson at the Lingqing Material (Shanghai) Trade Co, also a subsidiary of MMG, told the Global Times on Monday that it mostly sells electronic components in China, which are totally different products from those involved in the scandal.

"We have independent business from the units [involved in the data manipulation scandal], although we are affiliated with the same firm," he said.

An employee at Tianjin Tianling Superhard Tool Co, another subsidiary of MMG, said that the unit only does original equipment manufacturing for MMG.

"All the products we manufacture are shipped back to Japan and are not sold here in China," she told the Global Times on Monday, adding that she's not clear about the data manipulation issue.

Two other subsidiaries, Suzhou Lingfu Aluminum Co and the Qingdao Ecobrass Co, also denied that they sell or make any products with false data problems.

MMG didn't reply to interview questions as of press time.

MMG on Thursday admitted that two of its business units had manipulated data about some of its products for at least a year, according to a report by the Financial Times on Friday.

The two units are Mitsubishi Cable Industries, which was found to have falsified data since April 2015 for its rubber O-rings, which are used to prevent leaks in aircraft and other industrial products, and Mitsubishi Shindoh, which found that quality data for its brass parts, used in cars, and copper products, used in electronics and electrical devices, had been manipulated since October 2016, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper also cited the president of Mitsubishi Shindoh as saying that "possible affected products had been sent to China."

MMG has nine subsidiaries in China, whose businesses cover different sectors including aluminum, electric materials and copper alloy, according to the company's official website.

The problems at MMG exploded one month after Kobe Steel, also a Japanese manufacturer, admitted that it had manipulated quality data on some of its aluminum and copper products. MMG has a 45 per cent stake in a copper tube joint venture with Kobe Steel, the Financial Times report noted.

Chen Zilei, deputy director of National Association for Japanese Economy, told the Global Times on Monday that Japan's manufacturing industry used to be one of the best in the world, but its competence has dwindled in recent years.

"One reason is that (Japan) has been facing rising competition from countries like China and South Korea in recent years, forcing it to reduce costs on many products to guarantee revenue. To achieve that, companies can either sacrifice the quality of their products or innovate. We can see what choices some Japanese companies have made," he noted.

Chen added that an extended industrial chain, which makes management more difficult, and the declining manufacturing professionalism of the post-war generation, have contributed to the dire situation.

But he said that the competence of Japanese manufacturers remains elevated. "They are better than Chinese manufacturers on average, but the gap is narrowing," he noted.

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