Business / Corporate

Lax management and staff shortages led to Toray misconduct, probe finds

Kyodo

Data fabrication at a Toray Industries Inc. subsidiary was caused by the management’s lack of interest in quality control and a staff shortage, a report by outside experts said Wednesday.

The quality assurance division at Toray’s wholly owned unit Toray Hybrid Cord Inc. was a “highly independent” section placed under direct supervision of the company president, the experts concluded.

There was also pressure to meet delivery dates despite limited manpower and poor work conditions caused by deteriorated measuring equipment, which lead two officials who headed the division to rig data, according to the report.

The experts found no evidence the irregularities were carried out systematically.

Last month, Toray revealed that Toray Hybrid Cord supplied tire cord fabric and other products with falsified data to 13 companies for eight years through July 2016, including Tokyo-based tire maker Bridgestone Corp. and auto parts maker Toyoda Gosei Co. affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp.

Toray said Wednesday that of the 13 affected firms, 12 have reported they have found no safety issues. One company has not yet finished its inspection.

The Toray group will implement preventive steps to win back public trust, Toray President Akihiro Nikkaku said in a statement.

Toray will appoint a chief quality officer responsible for quality assurance across the Toray group, and launch a new department responsible for supervising quality control operations.

The report did not criticize Toray for not making the matter public — for about a year — until online postings brought the problem to light, saying that the company had “adequate reasons.”

But it suggested that Toray should adopt a method to quickly notify its customers should quality issues occur again.

Toray is currently looking into other group companies to see if there was similar misconduct. The company is expected to compile a report on the results of its probe by the end of March and clarify management responsibility.

Japanese manufacturers have been hit by a string of industrial scandals, tarnishing Japan Inc.’s reputation for quality.

Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Co. admitted that unauthorized workers carried out car inspections at their domestic plants, prompting recalls in Japan. Some Mitsubishi Materials Corp. subsidiaries have also admitted to data fabrication.