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  • Associated Press Kobe Steel Vice President Naoto Umehara, right, bows in formal apology Sunday in Tokyo. Umehara lamented that “trust in our company has dropped to zero” for faking inspections data for metals used in many products.

Friday, October 13, 2017 1:00 am

Steelmaker: Errors wider

Japan firm sorry for faking data

ELAINE KURTENBACH | Associated Press

TOKYO – Steelmaker Kobe Steel apologized Thursday after finding wider problems, dating back to 2011, with faked inspections data for metals used in many products, including cars, bullet trains, aircraft and appliances.

Kobe Steel's president, Hiroya Kawasaki, bowed deeply in a formal apology, lamenting that “Trust in our company has dropped to zero.”

He promised a senior trade ministry official that the company, Japan's third-largest steelmaker, would provide results of safety inspections within two weeks and a report on the problem's cause within a month.

Akihiro Tada, director of the ministry's Manufacturing Industries Bureau, urged the company to move quickly in resolving the problems, which are thought to have affected many of the country's largest manufacturers.

The company, Japan's third-largest steelmaker, said in a statement late Wednesday that it had uncovered manipulation of data on steel powder used in metallurgy and also on high-tech materials used to create films used in computer chips. The government has urged Kobe Steel to clarify the extent of the misconduct.

The latest discovery was of falsification of data on 140 tons of steel powder supplied to one customer in fiscal 2016, between April 2016 and March 2017.

Another case involved 6,611 items of sputtering target materials shipped to 70 customers beginning in November 2011. Kobe Steel said it had failed to carry out tests it had agreed to conduct, and improperly “rewrote” inspection data.

But it said most of those materials, used to deposit thin films from materials onto components such as computer chips, were reinspected and are thought to have met customers' specifications.