Construction company official admits to also fabricating piling data

Kyodo

A construction company official from a firm that is a competitor with the company behind the faulty piling work on a condominium building in Yokohama said he has also fabricated data in the past to meet deadlines due to pressure from contractors.

The admission by the official, a man in his 50s who has been involved for years in piling and construction work on foundations for condo buildings sold by major developers, is an indication that Asahi Kasei Construction Materials’ troubles may just be the tip of the iceberg.

If data fabrication is found to have been widespread throughout the industry, public concern for condos and other buildings is likely to balloon. The land ministry is expected to first investigate the Yokohama condo building incident thoroughly. Afterwards, a panel of experts will decide if there is a need to widen investigation to other firms as well.

During an interview, the man who declined to be named said he had no other option but to fabricate data due to pressure from contractors to meet deadlines.

“Asahi Kasei Construction Materials isn’t the only ones doing it,” he said.

“I have used data from other (piling jobs), attached it to a construction report and submitted it to the primary contractor,” the man said, adding that he had only done so after judging the piling work as safe.

According to the man, there were cases where the ground was softer than initially anticipated. There were also times while drilling that the data was unverifiable and it could not be confirmed that solid ground had been hit, he said.

In other cases, he said he couldn’t ascertain data due to recording equipment malfunctions and printing problems. Sometimes the printing paper would get wet, he said.

In such cases, the proper procedure would be to report the problem to the primary contractor, which might require the need to redo the survey, a process that would have cost the contractor and his company time and money.

“I know it was safe from the geological survey,” the man said. “To avoid causing trouble, I looked the other way on some problems.”

But he also said that there was no way he would approve piling work that hadn’t reached solid ground without taking proper measures, adding that the Yokohama condo example is an “extreme case.”

The reason why contractors put such pressure on subcontractors is because developers sell condos before they are completed, he said.

The man did not elaborate further, giving no indication of when he fabricated data or the name of the primary contractor he worked for.