Carmakers hit in Japan steel scandal

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                                                            |By Yuka Obayashi

Image Zoom |By Yuka Obayashi

"But they did not meet the specifications that were agreed between us and Kobe Steel", a Hitachi spokesman told AFP.

"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.

Hitachi said its new trains in Britain used Kobe Steel but had all passed rigorous tests.

Kobe Steel President Hiroya Kawasaki warned on Thursday there may be more cases of falsified product data, in a sign the unfolding scandal may worsen.

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The stock dived 22% on Tuesday to finish at 1,068 yen ($9.50), its maximum daily loss limit-wiping nearly a billion dollars off the firm's market value.

On Wednesday, Kobe Steel added two more products to the list of affected materials: powdered steel, which is used to create molded steel products like gears, and "target material", a specialty mix of several kinds of metal used in the production of DVDs, television screens and other electronics equipment.

Top Japanese automakers said Wednesday they were scrambling to assess their vehicles that used products from Kobe Steel, which has admitted to falsifying quality data in a growing scandal. "We won't know if we need to take any action until those investigations are complete", a spokesperson said.

Mr. Kawasaki, the Kobe Steel president, spoke on Thursday after a meeting with officials from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates steel makers. Turkish consumers, who read scandal, said that this could be cause of long-time immigrants in ir vehicles, and that victimization of ir lives could be revealed in this way more clearly. Its customers include Toyota Motor, General Motors and Ford, as well as aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. But one industry source alleges that the quality control problem for steel materials may extend into the offshore sector, and beyond Kobe Steel's products alone.

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The corrosive business practices have raised broader questions over corporate governance in Japan, and cast doubt on the integrity of a manufacturing industry once the envy of the world. Conglomerate Toshiba Corp is still battling the fallout of a scandal over reporting inflated profits.

Kobe Steel shares closed at the limit low after being untraded for the whole session, diving 22 percent to 1068 yen. Kobe Steel has no plans to sell assets at the moment, Kawasaki said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Kobe Steel denied a Nikkei business daily report that it meant to put its real estate business up for sale to help shore up its finances.

Shares in Kobe Steel fell by more than a fifth this week after it admitted fabricating data about the strength and durability of some aluminium and copper products delivered to more than 200 companies.

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