TOKYO – The Japanese government urged on Wednesday its third largest steel manufacturer, Kobe Steel, to determine the actual extent of the data fabrication scandal that came to light recently.
In the latest corporate scam to hit Japan, Kobe Steel had admitted on Sunday they had manipulated data to show products met customer specifications and said the practice might have been ongoing for at least 10 years.
“Data in inspection certificates had been improperly rewritten etc. and the products were shipped as having met the specifications concerned,” the steel giant had said in a statement.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami called the fabrication inappropriate and said it could affect the automobile, aeronautic and military equipment sectors.
He added the government has asked the company to clarify the causes and to make efforts to recover client confidence which has dropped since Sunday.
The shares of the company declined 21.9 percent on Tuesday evening and have continued to fall on Wednesday (19.56 percent by mid-session).
The manipulation would have compromised the durability and other technical aspects of materials such as aluminum, copper and iron and affects over 200 companies to which Kobe Steel supplied, according to local media reports.
The government spokesperson did not comment on how many companies were hit by the manipulation, but said it was possible the defense ministry might have been affected too.
Among the companies that Kobe Steel supplied to were suppliers to the defense ministry like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru and IHI, the Japanese government had said on Tuesday.
The manipulation affected in 2016 about 19,300 tons of aluminum products of the flat rolled and extrusion types, some 19,400 units of aluminum castings and forgings and some 2,200 tons of copper strips and tubes.
Japanese authorities have also asked the country’s automotive and aeronautical manufacturers to verify the actual technical characteristics of components supplied by Kobe Steel.