Japan's Kobe Steel claims pressure to meet deadlines behind data fabrication scandal

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-10 18:44:50|Editor: Liangyu
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TOKYO, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Kobe Steel Ltd. said Friday that an internal probe had revealed that pressure to meet delivery deadlines was in part behind the firm using falsified inspection data that has affected manufacturers worldwide.

According to an internal report released by the embattled steelmaker following the probe, the heavy pressure for factory floor staff to meet deadlines and production targets was reported as being partly responsible for the firm's widespread data scandal.

Kobe Steel CEO Hiroya Kawasaki said Friday that the company also had a closed door policy and intimated that delivery and production dates were overly prioritized by management staff.

"I deeply apologize to our customers, clients and shareholders for causing so much trouble," Kawasaki told a press briefing on the matter in Tokyo.

Earlier in the day, Kawasaki had to report to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry here the company's findings for the cause of its scandal, with an industry insider quoted as saying the firm's extended lack of profitability had added pressure on staff to hit targets.

The results of an internal probe in October revealed that products sold by Kobe Steel that had their inspection data fabricated were shipped to 525 companies.

Subsequently, Japan's quality control authorities revoked a certification for some copper products of a Kobe Steel subsidiary.

Most of the fabrications occurred within the company's aluminum and copper production operations.

The government here has tasked industrial standards-approved bodies to carry out inspections at Kobe Steel Ltd.'s plants in an effort to deal with the company's wide-reaching falsified inspection data scandal.

An external investigative committee will in due course compile a report on its findings. By the end of the year it will be determined whether Kawasaki and other executives who have been accused of turning a blind eye to the falsification practice will accept responsibility.

Kobe Steel had initially admitted to falsifying inspection data on products, including aluminum, copper, steel powder and special steel products.

It also came to light last month that the steel maker's own investigations had revealed routine instances of cover-ups and more incidents of data falsification.

Companies ranging from automakers and airplane manufacturers, to defense equipment and Shinkansen bullet train makers, have been affected by the scandal. Kobe Steel admitted that its products, with falsified data about their strength and durability, had been sold to around 200 companies globally. Since then the number of affected companies has grown exponentially as details of the scandal unfolded.

In Japan, major railway operators Central Japan Railway and West Japan Railway have stated that their Shinkansen bullet trains contained aluminum parts sourced from Kobe Steel that did not meet industry standards.

Along with domestic firms such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and major Japanese railway operators, the scandal has also affected overseas companies including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Airbus and Boeing Co.

Kobe Steel was founded in 1905 and has been a bastion of Japan's manufacturing sector.

Serious aspersions have also been cast around the globe over Japan's once stellar reputation for precision manufacturing, industry experts have said.