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Disaster management hubs among facilities with data-falsified quake dampers

A KYB seismic damper is seen in the basement of the Yokkaichi Kita Police Station in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, on Oct. 17, 2018. (Mainichi/Noriyoshi Matsumoto)

TOKYO -- Disaster management hubs in areas hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami were among 70 government facilities where KYB Corp. seismic dampers with falsified quality inspection data were installed, according to an Oct. 19 company announcement.

The suspect dampers have been installed in a two-story building housing a municipal fire protection and disaster management center in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan.

The municipal government built the center on higher ground in October 2014 to replace the old center damaged by the disaster, according to city officials. The municipal government inquired with an architectural management company in charge of the project, and confirmed on Oct. 18 that dampers with falsified quality data had been built into the facility.

A fire department covering municipalities in the Ishinomaki district of Miyagi Prefecture, including the city of Ishinomaki, also found that two of the six KYB dampers at its building were substandard. The fire department building was submerged by tsunami in the March 2011 disaster, and its six dampers were replaced in December 2012.

"It shouldn't have happened, and it's extremely regrettable," said Ishinomaki's fire chief.

Data on all eight KYB-made dampers that were to be installed in a new Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) building, which is under construction in the Toranomon district of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, were also altered. One of the shock-absorbing devices did not meet the standards set by the agency.

"One of the features of this building is that it's equipped with cutting-edge seismic isolation devices. It's extremely regrettable," said an agency official.

The JMA, which is currently headquartered in the capital's Chiyoda Ward, is scheduled to move into the new building in November 2020.

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