Kobe Steel faces Japanese government investigation over data scandal
TOKYO — Japanese authorities are investigating the data tampering scandal at Kobe Steel, the company said Wednesday, potentially expanding an episode that has undermined the country’s reputation for high-quality manufacturing.
Kobe Steel said in a statement that the company “is currently under investigation by investigative authorities in Japan.” He said he would cooperate but declined to comment further.
“Kobe Steel once again deeply apologizes for causing substantial trouble for all parties involved,” he said.
He did not specify which authority was investigating the company. But the statement came the same day Japanese media reported that Tokyo prosecutors had requested documents related to the scandal. Kobe Steel shares fell 3.5% on Wednesday.
An investigation could dig deeper into Kobe Steel’s problems. The company is already facing an investigation in the United States, where the Department of Justice has asked its US unit for records related to any substandard metal sold there.
Kobe Steel said last year that some of its executives lied about the quality of aluminum, copper and other products it sells to companies around the world in order to meet its own lofty quality goals. . The metals went into products such as airliners, cars and high-speed trains.
The company said the deceptions date back decades. He blamed an emphasis on short-term profits and a corporate culture that discouraged frontline workers from questioning senior executives’ decisions. It has pledged to overturn its management practices and last month named a new chairman, a longtime Kobe Steel executive named Mitsugu Yamaguchi, to replace Hiroya Kawasaki, who resigned to take responsibility for the scandal.
No fatalities or safety incidents were attributed to the products, which always met government safety standards. But they sparked a series of revelations about falsified data at other companies known to supply high-performance parts. They include Toray Industries, a maker of materials like carbon fiber, and Mitsubishi Materials, which makes components for cars, planes and industrial equipment.
They also came a year after Japan’s vaunted auto industry exposed its own data tampering issues. Mitsubishi Motors and Suzuki Motor both said in 2016 that managers there cheated on fuel economy tests. And last year, Nissan and Subaru said they allowed unauthorized employees to perform safety tests on finished vehicles.