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Mitsubishi Materials data falsification scandal another blow for 'made in Japan' brand

Japanese manufacturing, which has supported the nation's economy, has taken a hit with a string of data falsification scandals -- the latest including Mitsubishi Materials Corp. subsidiary Mitsubishi Cable Industries Ltd.

The latest scandal, involving two subsidiaries, came to light on Nov. 23. Other scandals that surfaced from autumn this year include falsification of testing data at Kobe Steel Ltd. and inspections by unauthorized workers at Subaru Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. In light of these scandals, restoration of the "made in Japan" brand looks likely to take some time.

In February, Mitsubishi Cable Industries became aware of data falsification pertaining to a sealant intended to prevent water leaks, and in March a report was filed to the company's managers. But shipping of the products in question was not halted until Oct. 23. Parent company Mitsubishi Materials Corp. received a report on the issue on Oct. 25. In the case of Kobe Steel, the illicit practices were announced on Oct. 8, and the mounting criticism apparently prompted Mitsubishi Cable Industries to hurriedly make a report to its parent company.

On the reason for the delayed announcement by Mitsubishi Cable Industries, a representative said, "We have an extremely large number of products, and it took time to confirm the facts." But in the end, the company continued supplying non-conforming products to its clients for over half a year while concealing the dishonesty. The data falsification related to parts used in the airline, aerospace and industrial equipment sectors. As credibility is of particular importance in these fields, the scandal is expected to provoke a harsh response from users of the products.

In the Kobe Steel scandal, which came to light earlier, it emerged that problem parts had been shipped for use in equipment including Japan's H-2A rocket, Shinkansen bullet trains and Boeing jets. The finding prompted Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to announce it would consider changing the supplier of its aluminum parts in its Mitsubishi Regional Jet. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and West Japan Railway Co., meanwhile, have expressed that they are prepared to bill Kobe Steel for the cost of replacing parts.

In the Mitsubishi Materials subsidiary announcement on Nov. 23, a representative said, "At this stage, we have not confirmed any legal violations, or doubts about safety." But even if the safety of the products is confirmed, there is a high chance that the company could be billed for replacements by its clients. Another important point from now on will be whether the company violated any laws.

Due to the scandal at Kobe Steel, some products were stripped of their Japanese Industrial Standards designation. As a result, some clients are reviewing their business relationship with the company. The latest case is similarly expected to deal a blow to firm finances, with customers shying away among other consequences.

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