National

Asahi Kasei subsidiary worker linked to leaning Yokohama condo handled 41 projects over 10 years, firm reveals

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

An Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corp. employee at the center of a data falsification scandal involving a tilting condo in Yokohama oversaw the firm’s piling work at 41 projects in nine prefectures over the past decade, the firm revealed Thursday.

The company, currently in hot water over defective piling work at the Park City Lala Yokohama condominium, released the breakdown and category of 3,040 buildings that it had worked on since 2005.

The list shows the buildings included not only condos but also schools, hospitals and offices. The buildings are located in 45 of the 47 prefectures.

In a news conference held after submitting the list to the infrastructure ministry, Asahi Kasei Construction Materials said it would investigate whether data falsification similar to that at the Yokohama condo had been committed at all 3,040 buildings.

It declined to release the building names.

“We will prioritize the checks of the 41 projects (handled by the employee),” said Masateru Sakai, an executive officer at Asahi Kasei Construction Materials.

Sakai also declined to say how long it will take the firm to complete its investigation of the 3,040 buildings. “We are devoting all of our resources related to the piling businesses to this investigation,” he said.

The firm has said that the data falsification affected 70 foundation piles out of 473 used for the construction of the Yokohama complex, which was completed in 2007.

Of them, six are believed to not have reached solid ground, called the support layer, and two were not driven deep enough into the layer, apparently leading to one of the four buildings in Yokohama developing a lean.

According to parent Asahi Kasei Corp., the employee, who held a key on-site position in the piling work for the Yokohama complex from December 2005 to February 2006, has admitted to falsifying data.

But the man, at that time an employee temporarily dispatched from a subcontractor, has argued that he thought all the pilings reached bedrock, and that data were fabricated not to hide insufficient work but to make up for missing data records.

Of the 41 projects handled by the employee, 13 were condominiums or apartments, nine were factories/warehouses, and four were medical facilities. The 41 also included four office buildings and three school buildings.

The man’s work was concentrated in Aichi Prefecture, where he handled the piling work for 23 projects.

Asahi Kasei said it was launching an independent investigative panel comprising lawyers with no connection to the company. It planned to release their names Friday.

Even before Thursday’s announcement, local governments were speaking out about the data they had on the issue.

Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda said at a news conference that Asahi Kasei Construction Materials conducted piling work on six city projects, with no defects so far reported.

Meanwhile, the city of Yokohama said it started combing through some 2,500 projects affecting public facilities from Friday to ascertain the involvement of Asahi Kasei Construction Materials.

The parent firm is examining the data falsification through an in-house panel, but the panel may not be able to release the outcome by year-end as expected, sources said.

Information from Kyodo added

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