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Japan's METI says automakers confirm Kobe Steel aluminum as safe

Friday, Oct 13, 2017

  Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industries has confirmed with Kobe Steel and its customers that aluminum products, shipped with falsified data, were safe on vehicles, a ministry official told S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

"Kobe Steel as well as automotive manufacturers reported [to the ministry] that there is no problem with strength of aluminum components," said Takaaki Sashida, deputy coordinator for metal industries.

Kobe Steel first reported falsifying inspection data of aluminum and copper products to the ministry on September 28.

Inspection data included dimension, strength and machinery property data for 19,300 mt of aluminum sheet and extrusions, 2,200 mt of copper products, and 19,400 units of cast and forged aluminum products were falsified over September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, Kobe Steel had said.

"There are no safety issues in the end, as these units were proved to hold sufficient strength, according to results of inspections by the manufacturers [users]," Sashida said.

Prior to reporting to the ministry, Kobe Steel's administrative affairs officials resolved on August 30 to suspend shipment of components with falsified data, and resumed shipments after deploying the procedure for proper data reporting, Sashida added.

The ministry has advised Kobe Steel to investigate causes of fraud; to provide information to users; to publicize the issue; and to set up a system to prevent its recurrence.

"We are awaiting Kobe Steel reports. There is no deadline, but we have advised the company the sooner the better. We have no plan yet to survey whether inspection processes were appropriate," Sashida said.

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