Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Faked Japanese aluminium data is no joke for planes, trains and automobiles

Faked Japanese aluminium data is no joke for planes, trains and automobiles

Toyota is just one of about 200 companies that used steel, aluminum and other metal products from Japan's third-largest steel manufacturer, and that is raising serious concerns in the wake of revelations by Kobe Steel Ltd that it had falsified data on numerous products it sells for as long as a decade.

Kobe Steel's probe has so far found that data were falsified for about 19,300 tonnes of aluminum products, 2,200 tonnes of copper products and 19,400 units of aluminum castings and forgings shipped to clients between September previous year and August. The company works with several major auto manufacturers including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Ford and General Motors.

The company said products used by about 200 companies were certified with falsified data.

Shares in Japan's third-largest steelmaker tumbled almost 22 per cent to close at 1,068 yen (£7.20).

JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. estimated that it could cost the company as much as 15 billion yen ($133 million) to replace the parts, assuming five percent of its aluminum product sales were affected.

When asked whether Kobe Steel "systematically" lied about product data, the firm's Vice President Naoto Umehara replied, "Yes". He also apologized for the misconduct, stating that the company is deeply apologetic for this improper conduct.

Subaru also produces wings for Boeing Co., but the aerospace company said nothing in its review has convinced it there's a safety issue.

And this isn't the only scandal that's been coming out of Japan as of late.

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Toyota said it had found Kobe Steel materials, for which the supplier falsified data, in bonnets, doors and peripheral areas.

Boeing, which gets some parts from Subaru, said there was nothing to date that raises any safety concerns.

Kobe fabricated data on components of its aluminium and copper unit which are used in cars and aircraft. We are also now checking if the aluminum we used was subject to data falsification.

MHI said Kobe Steel products were used on its Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rockets, including a H-2A rocket launched on Tuesday to put a navigation satellite into orbit. Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) supply parts to Boeing including for its 777 Dreamliner.

Also, in February 2017, Takata pleaded guilty in the U.S.to one count of wire fraud for misleading automakers about the safety of its air bags.

Doors and hoods are also affected at Nissan, a spokesman confirmed.

Kobe Steel CEO Kawasaki has run the company since 2013, and has recently overseen moves to expand its presence in aluminium.

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