Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Public prosecutors and police raided Tuesday Kobe Steel Ltd.’s Tokyo head office and related locations over the company’s product quality data manipulation.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Metropolitan Police Department had already been investigating the case using materials submitted by the steelmaker on a voluntary basis.
The prosecutors and police apparently judged it necessary to conduct the compulsory investigation as Kobe Steel’s wrongdoing extended over a long period of time.
The focus of the probe is on how far senior Kobe Steel officials as well as the company itself should be held liable for the alleged false labeling, an act that violates the unfair competition prevention law.
The investigation is seen to be covering Kobe Steel’s practices in the past five years, which are not yet barred by statute of limitations for prosecution.
The prosecutors and police plan to analyze seized documents and interview related officials, hoping to find out whether the management was involved in the scandal.
Kobe Steel falsified quality data for some aluminum and copper products that did not meet standards promised to customers.
Such products, used in automobiles and aircraft, were shipped to a total of 688 customers at home and abroad. The scandal has been subject to an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
The data manipulation started in the 1970s at the latest and involved Kobe Steel’s domestic plants and divisions as well as group companies in and outside Japan.
Three people, who were Kobe Steel executives at the time when the misconduct came to light last year, had been aware of it, but had overlooked it, according to informed sources.