Mitsubishi Materials-Related Data Falsification Scandal Further Sullies Reputation of Japanís Industry

Xinhua General News Service

November 27, 2017

Revelations on Nov. 23 that some of Mitsubishi Materials Corp.ís subsidiaries have falsified quality data for products used in multiple industries, including in equipment used by Japanís Self-Defense Forces (SDF), have compounded growing concerns about quality control in the manufacturing sector here, informed sources said.

The latest scandal to cast serious aspersions on quality control protocols and overall corporate governance in Japan Inc.ís manufacturing sector came on the heels of data falsification improprieties at Kobe Steel Ltd., and uncertified safety checks carried out by Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp., which led to extensive recalls.

Further exacerbating concerns about quality control protocols and corporate governance at Japanese manufacturers, Mitsubishi Materials Corp. admitted Nov. 23 that three of its subsidiaries have falsified quality data for products used in a wide range of sectors including, but not limited to the automotive and aerospace industries.

As regards to hardware for Japanís SDF, officials at the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, under the auspices of Japanís Defense Ministry, have said that products including rubber seals installed in components related to hydraulic systems used on SDF aircraft and ship engines, did not meet the requested specifications.

The agency, it said, is still investigating exactly which military hardware has the products with potentially erroneous data specifications installed in them.

Rigged data, it was found, was also used on sealing materials used for joining metal pipes which were supplied to 229 companies. The subsidiaries were also found to have used false data on copper products which have been shipped to 29 companies.

Specification data for O-ring sealing products made by Mitsubishi Cable Industries Ltd. were changed to meet client specifications, the company said, with the products, shipped between April 2015 and September this year, worth 29.4 billion yen (264.57 billion U.S. dollars).

The products, with altered specification data were sent to, among others, 70 firms involved in the aerospace industry and seven involved in the automotive industry, it was revealed.

Mitsubishi Materials said that the specification improprieties at Mitsubishi Cable first came to light following a quality control audit conducted in December last year.

Mitsubishi Materials said that it subsequently found that data had been falsified in February this year, with the firm carrying out further internal probes since.

A copper production unit of Mitsubishi Materials, Mitsubishi Shindoh Co., was also found to have falsified inspection data on products including brass strips used for components in the automotive industry.

Mitsubishi Shindoh Co. said its products with falsified inspection data were sent to 29 firms between October 2016 and October this year.

An internal probe turned up the scandal last month and the affected products are believed to be worth 120.9 billion yen (1.08 billion U.S. dollars).

Another Mitsubishi Materials-linked firm, Mitsubishi Aluminum Co., was also found to have supplied products to its clients with rigged specification data, in a widening scandal, the true extent of which remains unknown as investigations are still proceeding, industry insiders said.

While Mitsubishi Materials has said it will address the myriad scandals, in public, in a press conference on Nov. 24, probe committees have been set up by Mitsubishi Cable and Mitsubishi Shindoh.

The members of the committees, according to informed sources, are partly comprised of external lawyers who are charged with carrying out thorough, independent investigations and implementing measures to ensure such malpractice and industry non-compliance is stamped out.

The uncertified vehicle checks at some of Japanís most well-known automakers and the falsifying of quality and specification data at Kobe Steel sent shock waves through the global manufacturing industry.

Carrying out uncertified inspections and rigging specification data has seemingly been an inherent practice for decades at some of Japanís scandal-mired manufacturers, as recent investigations have revealed.

But having been brought under the global spotlight just recently and compounded by the latest scandal evolving at Mitsubishi Materials, Japan Inc.ís once-stellar reputation for producing high-quality, safe, precision-made parts and components for domestic and global clients, has been severely and, perhaps, irrevocably, sullied, authorities on the matter said.

Copyright 2017 Xinhua News Agency.

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