Mitsubishi Materials admitted it faked data on some products just weeks after a similar scandal engulfed Kobe Steel. It became the latest major Japanese firm to admit problems with quality control – another fake data scandal. And it means that Japan’s reputation for manufacturing prowess took another hit.
Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko called the matter “extremely regrettable” at a briefing on Friday, and said the ministry has asked related departments to investigate its causes and is seeking an explanation from Mitsubishi Cable on why it took so long to report its problem. He added that he considers it a matter for the companies and not an industry-wide issue.
Shares of Mitsubishi Materials fell 8 percent to 3,765 yen as of 10:22 a.m. Its stock had hit a two-year high earlier in the month, buoyed by stronger global metals prices. And its share plunged as much as 11 percent in Tokyo, the most in eighteen months.
Affected products included rubber sealing materials used for packing and gaskets, often used to prevent leaks of liquid or gas from pipes in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace and automobile manufacture, the company said in a statement.
The scandal also affected brass strip products for cars and other products.
Mitsubishi Materials said its subsidiaries falsified specification data before shipping some of its products to clients, adding that the company is working with affected clients to ensure the safety of their products.
The admission came after Japanese consumers saw a series of quality control and governance lapses at major firms including Kobe Steel, Nissan and Subaru. Kobe Steel has admitted falsifying strength and quality data for a string of products shipped to hundreds of clients, from vehicle makers to plane manufacturers. Nissan recalled some 1.2-million vehicles after admitting in October that staff without proper authorization had conducted final inspections on some vehicles intended for the domestic market before they were shipped to dealers. Subaru also recalled nearly 400,000 vehicles from its domestic market after admitting it also allowed uncertified staff to conduct vehicle inspections.
Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said Mitsubishi Materials will report on the misconduct, including products and customers affected, to the ministry later Friday. The ministry will order the company to put the highest priority on safety, he said.