General Motors checking impact of Kobe Steel data cheating

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In Japan and overseas, manufacturers that have used Kobe Steel materials have been racing to check that the safety of their own products has not been compromised.

The Japanese government urged steelmaker Kobe Steel on Wednesday to clarify the extent of manipulation of inspection data on steel, aluminium and other metals used in a wide range of products, reportedly including rockets, aircraft and cars, in the latest quality scandal to rock Japanese manufacturing.

Earlier the company said that in the year up to August 31 it had sold materials such as aluminum flat-rolled products, aluminum extrusions, copper strips, copper tubes and aluminum castings and forgings using falsified data on such things as the products' strength.

In the U.S., General Motors said it is checking whether its cars contain falsely certified parts or components sourced from Kobe Steel, the latest major automaker to be dragged into the widening scandal.

Product quality scandals have posed a challenge to the image of top Japan's manufacturers in recent years. It could also undermine confidence in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to improve corporate governance as part of his program of Abenomics. "But they did not meet the specifications that were agreed between us and Kobe Steel", a Hitachi spokesman told AFP. Conglomerate Toshiba Corp 6502.T is still battling the fallout of a scandal over reporting inflated profits. Kobe Steel chief executive officer Hiroya Kawasaki didn't respond to requests for comment.

A man walks past the signboard of Kobe Steel at the group's Tokyo headquarters in Tokyo October 10, 2017. "But we are still investigating and it's premature to say if recalls will be necessary".

He would not identify the companies by name but several automakers on Wednesday said they have been made aware of the problem and are investigating.

A Kobe spokesman told Reuters the firm is working with customers to check for any issues.

Boeing said in a statement it was working "with our suppliers since being notified of the issue".

USA plane manufacturer Boeing also said it had not found any safety issues. Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) supply parts to Boeing including for its 777 Dreamliner.

"We have confirmed that aluminium from Kobe Steel is used in the hoods and doors of some of our vehicles", Nissan said in an email.

Akihiro Tada, director of the ministry's Manufacturing Industries Bureau, urged the company to move quickly in resolving the problems, which are thought to have affected numerous country's largest manufacturers.

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