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Transport ministry inspects Kobe Steel Mie aluminum plant amid product data fabrication probe

Tuesday, Oct 24, 2017

  The transport ministry on Monday began inspecting a Kobe Steel Ltd. plant in central Japan where product data were fabricated, a source said Monday.

The ministry plans to inspect the Daian plant in Mie Prefecture, which produced aluminum used in Mitsubishi Regional Jet passenger planes, through Wednesday, the source said.

The aircraft developer and maker, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., has said there is no safety concern and it will proceed with the development plan as scheduled.

In addition to the Daian plant, aluminum product data were also falsified at Kobe Steel plants in Tochigi and Yamaguchi prefectures.

The ministry plans to conduct further investigations given the extent of usage of Kobe Steel’s aluminum products, ranging from automobiles and shinkansen trains to the space industry.

At the Daian plant, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will examine the quality control system and investigate whether other misconduct occurred beyond what is already known.

Kobe Steel said aluminum product inspection data were rewritten when customer specifications were not met.

The Japanese metal conglomerate, founded in 1905, said it sold products that did not meet quality standards to some 500 companies. Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. as well as major Japanese railways are among businesses that used the affected materials.

Abroad, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Airbus and Boeing Co. are also reportedly investigating whether they used any suspect materials from the Japanese steelmaker.

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked Kobe Steel to submit documents related to the data falsification scandal, while the European Aviation Safety Agency has advised aircraft manufacturers to stop procuring materials from Kobe Steel.

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