KOBE (Kyodo) Kobe Steel Ltd. said Thursday it has penalized six of its top executives as an internal investigation found that data on soot and smoke released by one of its plants were falsified frequently over a period of 30 years.

Four executives will take three-month pay cuts, including Chairman Koshi Mizukoshi and President Yasuo Inubushi, who will give up half of their monthly salaries during the period, while the two other executives have been demoted, the major steelmaker said.

The misconduct was discovered at the company’s steel mill in Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture, in operation since 1970.

Inubushi submitted an investigation report and apologized to Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido the same day.

According to the company’s findings, Kakogawa factory workers faked funnel fume data for two or three years after a fifth boiler began operation there in 1977 and the amount of smoke and soot exceeded a level stipulated by the antipollution law.

The manager in charge of the matter condoned the practice in the belief that there was no other choice at least for a short period of time, the report says.

Factory workers engaged in similar falsification for two years after a sixth boiler came into service at the plant in 1990.

According to the in-house probe, no senior managers at Kobe Steel admitted that they were aware that such misconduct had gone on at the plant.

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