Kobe Steel Ltd.’s chairman and president said Thursday that further cases of misconduct by the nation’s third-largest steel maker may emerge as part of the burgeoning scandal over its falsification of inspection data for iron powder, aluminum and copper, which has already affected automakers and airplane manufacturers.
“There are suspicious cases in Japan and abroad” that could involve further wrongdoing, as the ongoing investigation has not been completed, Hiroya Kawasaki told reporters after meeting with a senior industry ministry official.
Kawasaki, who was making his first public appearance since the company unveiled data falsification on Sunday, said he will announce the results of the investigation on safety of the shipped products in two weeks and release countermeasures in one month.
“The issue shakes the foundation of fair trade and is extremely regrettable. The incident influences the trust of the Japanese manufacturing industry as a whole,” Akihiro Tada, director general of the Manufacturing Industries Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told Kawasaki. “We take the matter seriously.”
The outset of the meeting between Kawasaki and Tada was open to the media.
Kawasaki offered apologies during the meeting, saying, “The trust in (Kobe Steel) has fallen to zero. As a top official, I’d like to make efforts to regain the confidence,” he said.
Kawasaki said he will consider his responsibility as head of the company after fully investigating the causes of the scandal.
The steel maker has come under fire after revelations it shipped more than 20,000 tons of aluminum and copper products with fabricated inspection data to about 200 undisclosed companies.
The company had also revealed Wednesday that an internal probe found at least 140 tons of iron powder shipped in fiscal 2016 did not meet customer specifications. It also said subsidiary Kobelco Research Institute had fabricated data related to sputtering target material used in the production of liquid crystal displays and DVDs.
The scandal affects major companies in the car, shinkansen bullet train, aerospace and defense industries. Central Japan Railway Co. said aluminum used for its shinkansen trains was found to have not met Japanese Industrial Standards.
Kobe Steel reported the incident to the ministry on Sept. 28.
Meanwhile, General Motors is checking whether its cars contain falsely certified parts or components sourced from Kobe Steel. The Detroit firm is the latest major automaker to be dragged into the cheating scandal.
“General Motors is aware of the reports of material deviation in Kobe Steel copper and aluminum products,” spokesman Nick Richards said. “We are investigating any potential impact and do not have any additional comments at this time.”
GM joins automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and as many as 200 other companies that have received parts sourced from Kobe Steel, as the scandal reverberates through global supply chains.