Japan firm admits faking quake shock absorber data

KYB Corp senior managing executive officer Keisuke Saito (front) and Kayaba System Machinery president Shigeki Hirokado bowing at yesterday's press conference.
KYB Corp senior managing executive officer Keisuke Saito (front) and Kayaba System Machinery president Shigeki Hirokado bowing at yesterday's press conference.PHOTO: REUTERS

As many as 1,000 buildings across country could have used products, says manufacturer

TOKYO • A Japanese maker of earthquake shock absorbers said yesterday that at least 70 buildings across the country may have used its products for which quality data was falsified and that nearly 1,000 are suspected of having done so.

KYB Corp said this week it had falsified data on the quality of some of its earthquake shock absorbers since at least 2003 in one of the world's most quake-prone nations - the latest in a series of compliance scandals that has shaken confidence in Japan's manufacturing prowess.

KYB released an initial list of 70 buildings that may have used the products for which data was falsified, including government buildings such as the main Ministry of Finance building in Tokyo and several other government structures.

Media reports said other buildings, including Tokyo's main train station, a major tourist site, and some venues for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, may also have used the products.

KYB officials, who bowed deeply at the beginning of a news conference yesterday, said while initially, 70 buildings were suspected to have used products for which the data was falsified, they had confirmed 28.

The true figure could be as high as 1,000, they added.

"We would like to apologise for this sort of inappropriate action," said Mr Keisuke Saito, KYB's senior managing executive officer.

The list of 70 suspected buildings around Japan included the central government building housing the Transport Ministry, where the news conference was being held, with officials saying they were hurrying to make further confirmations.

Mr Shigeki Hirokado, president of KYB subsidiary Kayaba System Machinery, which KYB has said was also involved in the data falsification, said its quake shock absorbers were exported to Taiwan and that some of them were problem products, but the number was "extremely small".

One of the most common absorbers is a piston-like mechanism usually located in the basement of a building. Another, used in taller buildings, is embedded in the walls at different levels of a structure.

A spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Games said on Thursday they had been told by the Tokyo government that KYB products were used at several venues for the Games but that they were waiting for details.

 

A Tokyo government official said it was possible the products had been used in the aquatics centre and an arena to be used for volleyball, both under construction, but the authorities were awaiting further information.

KYB products were used in building Tokyo's new National Stadium, the site of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics, but they were not affected by possible falsification, said an official at the Japan Sport Council.

The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634m-high tower that is a major tourist attraction and had been linked to KYB products in media reports, said yesterday there were no problems with any of the tower's shock absorbers.

Japan has been hit with similar scandals about earthquake safety in the past, including one in 2005 when it was found that an architect had falsified quake safety data for nearly 100 apartments and hotels he had designed.

Professor Nobuo Fukuwa, director of the Disaster Mitigation Research Centre at Nagoya University, said variations in shock absorber quality is not a major issue.

"Some fluctuation won't have an impact on the building's safety and people's lives, so not that much worry is needed," he told Reuters.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told a news conference earlier yesterday the incident was "extremely regrettable".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'Japan firm admits faking quake shock absorber data'. Print Edition | Subscribe