Kobe Steel Ltd. has made a startling admission: It sold products that failed quality control tests to about 500 companies. Worse still, it did so not in error but by falsifying data to make it appear that items had made the grade. Aircraft, electronics, car and bullet train manufacturers were among the recipients, raising obvious safety concerns. From Boeing Co. to Ford Motor Co., companies are scrambling to check any affected products. And Japan Inc. is facing up to another embarrassing scandal.
The admissions have dribbled out, and more may follow. Initially, the company confessed to falsifying data about the strength and durability of some copper and aluminum that was used in cars and trains and possibly planes and a space rocket, too. Then Kobe Steel said it also faked data about iron ore powder and materials used in DVDs and LCD screens. Chief Executive Officer Hiroya Kawasaki said on Oct. 12 more cases could emerge as the company continues its investigations. A day later it flagged misconduct related to more items including steel wire and copper piping, some of which were produced overseas.