Scan­dal leaves Kobe Steel with ‘zero cred­i­bil­ity’

The Guardian - - FINANCIAL - Justin McCurry Tokyo

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Kobe Steel said yes­ter­day that a deep­en­ing scan­dal over false in­spec­tions data may have spread be­yond Ja­pan and con­ceded his com­pany now had “zero cred­i­bil­ity”.

US car­maker Gen­eral Mo­tors is the lat­est man­u­fac­turer to check whether its ve­hi­cles con­tain falsely cer­ti­fied parts or com­po­nents sourced from Ja­pan’s third­biggest steel­maker.

“Gen­eral Mo­tors is aware of the re­ports of ma­te­rial de­vi­a­tion in Kobe Steel cop­per and alu­minium prod­ucts,” said a spokesman. “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing any po­ten­tial im­pact and do not have any ad­di­tional com­ments at this time.”

Kobe Steel’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Hiroya Kawasaki, apol­o­gised yes­ter­day and promised his firm would re­port to the trade min­istry on the re­sults of ur­gent safety in­spec­tions within a fort­night. He also said the cause of the fal­si­fied data would be ex­plained within a month.

“The cred­i­bil­ity of Kobe Steel has plunged to zero. We will make ef­forts to re­gain trust as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

The scan­dal has forced some of Ja­pan’s best-known man­u­fac­tur­ers to con­firm the safety of prod­ucts sourced from the com­pany. Toy­ota and Nis­san are among about 200 af­fected com­pa­nies, and Hi­tachi said it had used Kobe Steel parts in trains built for the UK mar­ket.

“Prod­ucts used met safety stan­dards, but they did not meet the spec­i­fi­ca­tions that were agreed be­tween us and Kobe Steel,” a Hi­tachi spokesman said.

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