National

Tokyo Skytree among buildings linked to data scandal at earthquake shock absorber-maker KYB Corp.

Kyodo

Tokyo Skytree and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings are among the nearly 1,000 structures nationwide that use earthquake shock absorbers produced by scandal-hit KYB Corp., which admitted Tuesday to fabricating data related to product quality for more than a decade.

It’s unclear what degree of risk the data fabrication could pose to the structural safety of the properties.

The operator of Tokyo Skytree said Wednesday it uses a system by KYB for absorption and control during a seismic event and is now checking whether more devices manufactured by the company are used at the 634-meter-tall tower in the capital’s Sumida Ward.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said its Nos. 1 and 2 buildings, as well as the Olympics Aquatics Center and Ariake Arena to be used for 2020 games, use KYB products, and it is looking into the possibility of their data having been falsified.

KYB’s products have also been installed at the Kanagawa, Osaka and Nagano prefectural government buildings and the Yokohama city government building, as well as a Nagoya University facility.

At least eight inspectors were revealed to be involved in the data fabrication of seismic absorber products, according to sources close to the matter.

KYB and a subsidiary are believed to have cheated data between January 2003 and September this year on two types of oil dampers at their plants in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, and Kani, Gifu Prefecture.

The data falsification was carried out over that period of time by inspectors who verbally informed each other of the practice, ensuring it continued.

By setting up an external commission to probe the issue, KYB aims to fully investigate its misconduct by the end of the year. The firm said it will replace the affected devices.

The eight workers’ signatures were found in records with falsified inspection data linked to apartments, hospitals and government buildings across the country, according to the sources.

KYB, which mainly manufactures shock absorbers for cars and trains, operates in 24 countries, according to its website. It holds the biggest share of the hydraulic oil damper market in Japan.

Although the infrastructure ministry said there was no risk that the affected buildings could collapse even if they are hit by a quake at the top of the seismic intensity scale, it plans to order 88 makers of quake absorption devices in the country to report by year-end whether similar misconduct occurred.

The sources said the infrastructure ministry inspected the KYB subsidiary’s Tsu plant on Oct. 10 in line with the building standards law.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Wednesday that the ministry will thoroughly implement measures to ensure safety at the affected buildings and prevent similar cases.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui blasted KYB for installing “defective products” at the prefectural building and demanded compensation and replacement of the devices. “It shows a decline in corporate ethics. I want (the company) to recognize that data falsification could put people’s lives at risk,” he told reporters.

KYB President Yasusuke Nakajima told a news conference Tuesday he will judge managerial responsibilities based on the external assessment.

In 2015, a similar data fabrication scandal involving Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. affected 154 buildings that had installed the company’s earthquake shock absorbers.

KYB, established in 1919, logged group sales of ¥392.39 billion ($3.5 billion) for the year ended March, with more than half booked abroad.

The revelation follows admissions of data fabrication by other major manufacturers including Nissan Motor Co. and Kobe Steel Ltd. that have raised questions about the quality of Japanese products.