Over 200 firms likely hit by fake data

Mitsubishi Materials Corp president Akira Takeuchi (centre) and other company executives bowing yesterday after the group admitted to falsifying product data. The company said three subsidiaries manipulated inspection data of parts used in aircraft,
Mitsubishi Materials Corp president Akira Takeuchi (centre) and other company executives bowing yesterday after the group admitted to falsifying product data. The company said three subsidiaries manipulated inspection data of parts used in aircraft, automobiles and industrial machinery.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mitsubishi Materials Corp president Akira Takeuchi (centre) and other company executives bowing yesterday after the group admitted to falsifying product data. The company said three subsidiaries manipulated inspection data of parts used in aircraft,
Mr Hiroshige SekoPHOTO: REUTERS

Mitsubishi Materials admits inspection data of vehicle, plane machinery parts falsified

TOKYO • Mitsubishi Materials Corp has said it is racing to determine the impact of falsified data of products shipped to more than 200 customers at home and abroad, in the latest quality scandal involving a Japanese manufacturer.

Mitsubishi Materials on Thursday said three subsidiaries manipulated inspection data of parts used in aircraft, automobiles and industrial machinery.

Its clients include the Defence Ministry, which has used the affected products for its military planes and ships.

The admission follows a spate of compliance failings at Japanese manufacturers, including Kobe Steel, Nissan Motor and Subaru, which threatens to shatter the country's reputation as a maker of high-quality products.

At a briefing yesterday, Mitsubishi Materials faced questions over its corporate management after admitting data faking at Mitsubishi Cable Industries was discovered as far back as February, with the subsidiary shipping products with possibly falsified data even after wrongdoing was detected.

"Making an announcement without pinning down the problem would have caused further disruption and trouble," said Mitsubishi Cable president Hiroaki Murata.

The data falsification scandal is the second in as many years to hit a member of the Mitsubishi group, Japan's biggest conglomerate, after Mitsubishi Motors Corp admitted it had falsified mileage readings on some of its vehicles.

A BIG LET-DOWN

A betrayal of trust in Japanese manufacturing.

MR HIROSHIGE SEKO, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, on the latest scandal.

Mitsubishi Materials said customers in Japan, the United States, China and Taiwan may have received affected products. It said an internal investigation will determine the causes of wrongdoing and scope of the matter.

"My responsibility is to bring countermeasures across the whole company based on the results of the investigation," said Mitsubishi Materials president Akira Takeuchi, in response to questions about whether he would resign over the matter.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko yesterday called the latest scandal "a betrayal of trust in Japanese manufacturing", pointing to the amount of time Mitsubishi Materials took to reveal the wrongdoing.

The company said Mitsubishi Cable distorted data on as much as 20 per cent of its rubber sealing products, used in aircraft and cars, for 21/2 years from April 2015. Of 229 potentially affected customers, 40 have been informed.

Another subsidiary, Mitsubishi Shindoh, manipulated data for metal products, used in cars and electronics, as far back as October last year. Around half of 29 potentially affected customers have been informed.

Mitsubishi Materials said it stopped shipping affected materials from the two units in October. In both cases, the company said it had not found any safety or legal problems. A third subsidiary, Mitsubishi Aluminium, also shipped products which did not meet customers' specifications.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Over 200 firms likely hit by fake data'. Print Edition | Subscribe