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Kobe Steel withholds faked quality data for 4 months

Posted October. 13, 2017 07:35,   

Updated October. 13, 2017 09:20

Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, Kobe Steel, is engulfed in an ever deepening scandal over manipulating the quality of its products. The Japanese company admitted to falsifying data on iron ore powder and alloy products as well as aluminum and copper, and the company also announced that it is investigating suspicious cases in and out of the country. The episode is morphing into an international scandal with the U.S. automakers General Motors and Ford launching internal investigations.

During a meeting with journalists in Tokyo on Thursday, Hiroya Kawasaki, the president of Kobe Steel, lowered his head and said the trust in Kobe Steel has dropped to zero. He also suggested the possibility of the scandal being further expanded, adding that the company is investigating suspicious cases in Japan and overseas.

The Japanese company falsified data on the poor quality iron ore powder produced at its Takasago factory before delivering 140 tons of iron ore powder to a company last year. Iron ore powder is widely used in the auto industry as it can be used to produce auto parts in complicated forms.

On Wednesday (local time), General Motors, America's largest automaker, announced that there is an on-going investigation into the aluminum and copper products from Kobe Steel. Ford, another American auto giant, has embarked on an investigation on its steel supplies from Kobe.

U.S. aircraft-maker Boeing also announced it is conducting a comprehensive inspection as Subaru, which supplies parts for the wings of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was found to have used steel products whose quality data were falsified as well.

Won-Jae Jang peacechaos@donga.com