November 17, 2017 / 10:26 AM / 2 years ago

Japan's transport ministry orders Kobe Steel to improve plant management

Kobe Steel's logo is seen through a fence at a facility of Kakogawa Works in Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s transport ministry said on Friday it has ordered scandal-hit Kobe Steel Ltd (5406.T) to improve management at one of its plants, as it struggles to restore confidence in its manufacturing following revelations of data falsification.

Measures taken to prevent a recurrence of wrongdoing at Kobe Steel’s Daian plant in central Japan were inadequate, the transport ministry said in a statement, pointing to a lack of concrete steps in areas like the alleviation of pressure from head office and the training of inspection staff.

“We will work quickly to plan and implement the measures as required by the transport ministry,” a Kobe Steel spokeswoman said.

The ministry inspected the Daian plant last month because of its role in supplying components for the domestically built Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) passenger aircraft under development by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T).

No safety issues were found during that inspection, with Kobe Steel saying on Friday that it assesses 90 percent of affected customers have no safety issues.

On Wednesday, Kobe Steel’s Hatano plant, one of its main copper plants, was stripped of its industrial quality certifications after an investigation into its quality control.

Kobe Steel has said that a lack of quality controls and a focus on profits was behind widespread data tampering that has impacted more than 500 companies and shaken up the supply chains of car and plane makers around the world.

(This version of the story was refiled to amend paragraph 5 to show number of affected customers assessed to have no safety issues is Kobe Steel’s assessment)

Reporting by Sam Nussey

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