Kobe Steel scandal deepens as two more products under suspicion

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                                                            |By Yuka Obayashi

Faced with the latest in a series of missteps that have undermined Japan's reputation for high-quality production, the industry ministry instructed Kobe Steel to assess the safety impact from the scandal.

The company, Japan's third-largest steel maker, said in a statement late Wednesday that it had uncovered manipulation of data on steel powder used in metallurgy and also on high-tech materials used to create films used in computer chips.

Earlier the company said that in the year up to August 31 it had sold materials such as aluminum flat-rolled products, aluminum extrusions, copper strips, copper tubes and aluminum castings and forgings using falsified data on such things as the products' strength.

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi Motor, Subaru and Mazda joined aviation firms and defence contractors Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and IHI that have used the steel maker's products. It could also undermine confidence in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to improve corporate governance as part of his program of Abenomics.

"General Motors is aware of the reports of material deviation in Kobe Steel copper and aluminium products", spokesman Nick Richards told Reuters. Conglomerate Toshiba Corp 6502.T is still battling the fallout of a scandal over reporting inflated profits.

On October 8, 2017, Kobe Steel announced that "a portion of the products traded with customers did not comply with the product specifications, which were agreed between the Company and its customers".

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While there has not been any reports that Kobe Steel products posed safety risks, the company is likely to face lawsuits from investors, customers, consumers and regulators in Japan and U.S., experts say.

He said the company - which has said it was examining possible data falsification going back 10 years - has begun an external investigation of all its units, including those overseas. He was speaking before meeting an industry ministry official to discuss the matter.

"Boeing has been working closely and continuously with our suppliers since being notified of the issue to ensure timely and appropriate action, including comprehensive inspections and analysis throughout our supply chain", the company said in an email.

MHI said Kobe Steel products were used on its Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rockets, including a H-2A rocket launched on Tuesday to put a navigation satellite into orbit.

And US plane manufacturer Boeing also said it had not found any safety issues. There were no technical problems with the components, MHI said.

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