Kobe Steel president admits possibility of more irregularities

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                                                            |By Yuka Obayashi

Following revelations that the embattled steelmaker had falsified data for its iron powder, aluminum and copper products that has affected companies ranging from automakers to airplane manufacturers, Kobe Steel Ltd. Chairman and President Hiroya Kawasaki said there could be more cases contributing to the unfolding scandal.

Asked what a shop who might have installed a questionable part or is working on a potentially affected Mazda should do, Hummel wrote: "With the safety and peace of mind of our customers as our highest priority, we will continue gathering information and quickly investigate the impact on vehicle quality while investigating what actions to take moving forward".

Kobe Steel said late on Wednesday it found 70 cases of tampered data on materials used in optical disks and liquid crystal displays at its Kobelco Research Institute Inc, which makes and tests products for the company.

Since then the embattled firm has seen its shares plunge almost 40% - wiping more than $1.5bn (£1.1bn) off its market value.

The head of Japan's number three steelmaker said Thursday that his firm was checking with more Japanese clients as well as foreign buyers including General Motors.

The government has urged Kobe Steel to clarify the extent of the misconduct.

In a statement on Sunday Kobe Steel said some aluminum and copper products shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labeled. Product quality scandals have posed a challenge to the image of top Japan's manufacturers in recent years.


Central Japan Railway Co, which operates bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka, said aluminium components connecting wheels to train cars failed Japanese industry standards.

He promised that Kobe Steel will carry out an in-house investigation into the matter, while the ministry demanded that the company report the results of the probe in about two weeks.

"The issue shakes the foundation of fair trade and is extremely regrettable".

However, Bloomberg Markets reported that Kobe Steel had later in the week said the misrepresentations at aluminum plants were systemic and might have dated back 10 years for some aluminum items.

The data tampering at its aluminium unit could also hit plans to expand the business as carmakers increasingly turn to the material, which is lighter than steel, to meet tighter environmental rules. Kobe's steel business would fetch roughly ¥200 billion ($1.78 billion), he said.

"I talked with management of JFE, and I think they are very happy to buy Kobe Steel's steel businesses", Pham said on Thursday on Bloomberg TV.

And in 2006, Kobe Steel said its Kakogawa steelworks in western Japan falsified soot emissions data over five years.

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