Carmakers hit in Japan steel scandal

The logo of Kobe Steel is seen at the group's Tokyo headquarters building in Tokyo Japan

The logo of Kobe Steel is seen at the group's Tokyo headquarters building in Tokyo Japan

Kobe Steel said late on Wednesday it found 70 cases of tampering with data on materials used in optical disks and liquid crystal displays at its Kobelco Research Institute Inc, which makes and tests products for the company.

It was unclear what the impact would be on earnings, the company said in a statement.

GM joins automakers including Toyota Motor Corp and as many as 200 other companies that have received parts sourced from Kobe Steel as the scandal reverberates through global supply chains. The government has urged Kobe Steel to clarify the extent of the misconduct.

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MHI said Kobe Steel products were used on its Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rockets, including a H-2A rocket launched on Tuesday to put a navigation satellite into orbit. It was not clear whether the scandal affected the safety of their products.

Toyota also confirmed that the material has been used in hoods and rear doors of some of its vehicles.

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"This is not going to be the end of Kobe Steel, it could be the end for management", he said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

"We can't rule out the possibility that the external investigation will find other cases", Katsukawa said, adding no customers had raised any safety issues or stopped buying its products.

Product quality scandals have posed a challenge to the image of top Japan's manufacturers in recent years.

Previous cases in Japan involving falsified data included Nissan Motor 7201.T , Mitsubishi Motors 7211.T and Takata, which filed for bankruptcy this year over faulty airbags that were blamed for 17 deaths and scores of injuries. Major automakers are also engaged in massive recalls and facing criticism for allegedly continuing to use the defective air bags despite knowing of the problem. That company's reputation was hammered earlier by a massive, systematic and decades-long cover-up of defects that surfaced in the early 2000s.

Companies from Japan and overseas are investigating whether safety of their products has been compromised. It has set up a committee headed by its president to investigate quality issues and hired an outside law firm to conduct a probe into the misconduct.

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