Kobe Steel Ltd. said Thursday that a key quality certification for some of its copper and copper-alloy products has been revoked over its data falsification scandal.
The Japan Quality Assurance Organization (JQA) pulled the certification known as Japanese Industrial Standards for Kobe Steel’s copper and copper-alloy seamless tubes after inspecting Kobelco and Materials Copper Tube Co., or KMCT, a group firm that makes the products.
The JQA, which judges whether industrial products meet national quality standards, found last week that KMCT had shipped unfit products. While it is not legally mandated for products to have JIS certification, some firms only offer certified products to assure quality.
Kobe Steel said it cheated on data relating to the strength of the tubes.
According to the firm, about 40 percent of KMCT’s ¥48.5 billion in sales come from JIS-certified copper and copper-alloy tubes used for heat exchangers.
Despite the lack of JIS certification, Kobe Steel Chairman and President Hiroya Kawasaki said the firm can still make products that match the standards of certified counterparts. At a news conference, he said some customers may agree to accept noncertified products.
Meanwhile, the industry ministry has reportedly ordered the JQA to inspect Kobe Steel’s 20 other manufacturing bases.
Kawasaki said he believes no further JIS problems will be found, but “if you ask me whether I am 100 percent confident, I’d have to say that there is a possibility.”
He added the company is still unsure how the scandal will affect earnings.
Japan’s third-largest steel maker revealed earlier this month that it had falsified quality data for its copper, aluminum and steel products, which are used in a wide range of products including cars, jets and trains. It also said Thursday that it is working with customers to determine whether the products in question are safe to use.
So far, 437 of the 525 companies affected have given preliminary safety clearances.
Kawasaki said no customers have asked for contracts to be canceled or for Kobe Steel to shoulder costs related to the scandal, but added that replacement requests are expected.
“We will continue our utmost efforts to support the customers to check safety,” Kawasaki said.
Kobe Steel also revealed that its internal probe found five more possible cases of misconduct, including at its machinery section.
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