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Oct 10, 2017

Kobe Steel data fabrication scandal hits satellite-launching rocket

TOKYO - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said Tuesday Kobe Steel aluminum products with falsified inspection data were used in the H-2A rocket that was launched earlier in the day to carry a satellite into space.


Mitsubishi Heavy is among some 200 undisclosed companies to which Kobe Steel shipped aluminum and copper products while fabricating inspection data, such as information about the materials' strength.


According to Mitsubishi Heavy, it confirmed no technical problems associated with the material but will check whether there are other rockets using Kobe Steel products.


Kobe Steel data fabrication scandal hits satellite-launching rocket photo


On aluminum products used in the rocket, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said, "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries briefed us, saying it judged there was no problem. We trust the company's explanation."


In addition to the rocket launched Tuesday, Kobe Steel's aluminum products have been used in another rocket planned to launch by March 2018 but no problems have been noted, according to Mitsubishi Heavy.


Kobe Steel said Sunday that inspection data were rewritten when customer specifications were not met in a case of systematic misconduct that began in factories 10 years ago.


The data fabrication has affected manufacturers in the auto, shinkansen bullet train and aerospace industries, raising concerns about the potential for a massive recall if a strength shortcomings are found in key components.


Nissan Motor Co., Subaru Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have said they had been using the affected aluminum products in passenger cars. Subaru also used such products in aircraft.


Aluminum products with falsified data were also found to have been used in some Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, Central Japan Railway Co. shinkansen bullet trains and Mitsubishi Regional Jet passenger planes developed by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.


Nissan, which sold about 560,000 vehicles in Japan in fiscal 2016 that ended March 2017, said it used Kobe Steel's aluminum products in the constructions of hoods.


"As it could affect the vehicle quality for protecting pedestrians, we will immediately check its impact," the company said in a statement.


The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said Tuesday it has ordered automakers to swiftly confirm whether they used products supplied by Kobe Steel.



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