Toray Industries, the world’s largest supplier of carbon fibre, has become the latest Japanese manufacturer to admit to falsifying quality data over eight years.
Toray Hybrid Cord, an Aichi-based subsidiary of Toray and maker of tyre and other industrial reinforcement cords, said it identified 149 cases out of 40,000, where two employees in charge of quality assurance had modified figures.
It said in these cases, which occurred between 2008 and 2016, the strength of the materials—tyre and vehicle hose reinforcement cords and cords used during a paper manufacturing process—did not meet the standards promised to customers.
Toray said the misconduct affected 13 customers but stressed the doctored figures were close to the quality standards, so the products posed no safety or functional risks.
The Hybrid Cord unit said it so far had not received reports from customers of any safety issues related to the affected products but added the investigation had not yet been completed.
Toray materials are used by carmakers, aeroplane manufacturer Boeing and Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing. However, while all of Toray’s subsidiaries are being investigated, none of the current cases involve products for either Boeing or Fast Retailing, the company said.
The disclosure continues a series of scandals that have undermined Japan’s reputation for quality, which have engulfed high-profile Japanese corporates Kobe Steel, Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Materials.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Akihiro Nikkaku, Toray president, said the firm plans to implement measures including a computerised data management system for product quality to prevent data tampering.
“We are taking this issue very seriously,” he said.
“In the next three years, we are committed to creating a product quality data system that won’t allow misconduct.”
Toray said it discovered the data falsification in July last year but did not plan to go public until earlier this month, when the firm noticed an internet post regarding the misconduct and received some inquiries.
Nikkaku said he thought it would be better for his company to address the issue openly rather than let rumours run rampant.
He added that had there been no internet post and scandals by other companies, Toray would not have announced the case publicly, since the misconduct did not violate laws or jeopardise safety, but would have instead informed its client companies.
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