Kobe Steel falsified data on metal used in cars and planes

Kobe Steel Ltd's announcement that its staff falsified data related to strength and durability of some aluminum and copper products used in aircraft, cars and maybe even a space rocket has sent shock waves through the Japanese economy.

The Japanese company's stock tanked 22 per cent in Tokyo as customers including Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and Subaru Corp said they had used compromised materials from Kobe Steel.

According to Boeing Co, which sources many parts from Subaru, there was  nothing to date that raises any safety concerns.

According to commentators, the company's admission has cast a shadow over the integrity of Japanese manufacturers, and comes after Takata Corp misled automakers about the safety of its air bags, and the recall last week by Nissan Motor Co of cars after it emerged that inspectors approved vehicle quality.

Kobe Steel said on Sunday the products were delivered to over 200 companies but did not disclose customer names.

The falsification was intended to make the metals look as if they conformed to client quality standards. Chief executive officer Hiroya Kawasaki is now head of committee which will probe quality issues.

According to executive vice president, Naoto Umehara the falsification had happened at all four of Kobe Steel's local aluminum plants. It had been systematic, and for some items the practice dated back some 10 years.

Meanwhile, Kobe Steel said on Sunday that about 4 per cent of the aluminium and copper products that it shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labelled as conforming to customers' required specifications.

''The impact on financials is unclear, but could be substantial depending on request(s) for replacement/recall,'' Jefferies analyst Thanh Ha Pham said in a note. ''Handling the situation is key to avoid long-term reputation damage.''