National

Asahi Kasei falsified data in 300 projects, sources say

Kyodo, Staff Report

Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corp. is suspected of falsifying data in some 300 of the 3,040 piling projects it has worked on over the past decade, sources close to the matter said Monday.

The Asahi Kasei Corp. subsidiary is reviewing all projects it worked on during that period after admitting last month to engaging in faulty piling work and data falsification on a condominium building in Yokohama that is now tilting.

The data falsification likely involves more than 10 people, including the male employee who held a key on-site position during the Yokohama condo project, the sources said.

Asahi Kasei Corp. told a news conference Monday that, out of the 41 projects the male employee in charge of the piling work for the tilting condo — Park City Lala Yokohama — undertook over the past 10 years, 19 were found to have had their piling data falsified.

Of the 19 facilities, the land ministry disclosed the names of two, saying it obtained the consent of their owners. One is a welfare facility in Aichi Prefecture called Tobishimamura Fureai no Sato, while the other is Nisshin Elementary School in Hekinan, Aichi Prefecture.

The firm declined to confirm, however, the percentage of data-tampering among the 3,040 projects, or the exact number of employees who were engaged in such misconduct, except to say “more than one” was involved.

“We would like to make an announcement on solid figures on Nov. 13,” Masahito Hirai, vice president of Asahi Kasei Corp., said at the news conference in Tokyo.

The firm is under orders from the infrastructure ministry to report by Nov. 13 whether data falsification took place at any of the 3,040 projects.

“We will refrain from releasing figures that are not complete,” Hirai said.

As to the motive of the male employee who handled the Yokohama condo, the firm said nothing new has been found. The man has repeatedly told the firm’s officials that he thought the piles had all reached solid bedrock and that he used data from other projects while creating a report on the Yokohama complex because he lost the piling data, Asahi Kasei Construction Materials said.

Hirai acknowledged that the firm’s corporate culture was such that it led to data falsification by more than one employee. The firm initially said that the male employee who worked at the Yokohama condo may have been the only source of falsification.

“We are still investigating whether the data falsification was a companywide problem,” he said. “But we admit that there was an environment that allowed such (misconduct by more than one employee) to be committed.”

Elsewhere, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Monday it has uncovered data falsification involving piling work at two school buildings — Tokyo Metropolitan University and a public high school in Komae — bringing the number of faulty projects involving Asahi Kasei Construction Materials to nine across Japan.

Instances of tilting or cracking, however, have not been found at any of the buildings other than the complex in Yokohama, Hirai said.

On Monday at 2 p.m., Asahi Kasei reported the results of 41 piling work projects handled by the male employee to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. Three hours later, ministry officials inspected the Tokyo head office of the firm’s subsidiary in accordance with the construction business law.

Experts have pointed out that data falsification is probably not limited to Asahi Kasei Construction Materials and could well span the industry. Contractors and subcontractors try to get the necessary piling data, but when they can’t they are prone to manipulate it to make their deadlines, experts said.