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Toray admits subsidiary faked data

Giant materials supplier is the latest caught falsifying quality controls

by Jean-François Tremblay
November 29, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 48

A photo of three Toray managers in business suits bow deeply during a press conference.
Credit: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom
Toray president Akihiro Nikkaku (left) and colleagues apologize at a press conference on Nov 28.

Toray Industries, one of Japan’s largest producer of chemicals and advanced materials, has admitted that a subsidiary falsified quality control measurements before shipping products to customers. The admission follows similar cases at other Japanese firms.

Between 2008 and 2016, Toray Hybrid Cord shipped out-of-spec industrial fiber to 13 customers producing tires, car parts, and felt used in paper making. Toray claims the materials missed promised quality specifications by only an “insignificant” amount. Still, the company apologized profusely for the lapses during a press conference following the disclosure.

Toray disclosed that it discovered the falsifications during an internal audit in the summer of 2016. Since then, the firm says, it has been notifying affected customers and reforming quality control procedures at the subsidiary to prevent any reoccurrence. The company tells C&EN it went public now because news of the falsifications appeared on internet bulletin boards and other customers started inquiring.

Toray’s disclosure follows similar ones from other prominent Japanese firms. Earlier this month, Mitsubishi Materials said two of its subsidiaries had tampered with production data for rubber and metal parts supplied to the auto and aerospace industries. In October, Kobe Steel fessed up to falsifying records on materials supplied to customers including Toyota and Boeing. In 2015, the housing subsidiary of chemical maker Asahi Kasei acknowledged misreporting the depth of foundations at several apartment buildings it constructed in Japan.

But Toray is probably the highest-profile company to admit to data falsification. The firm is a major supplier of carbon fiber to Boeing and Airbus. And the falsifications occurred while Sadayuki Sakakibara, the current head of Japan’s largest business lobby, was president of Toray.

Sakakibara recently expressed his disappointment with the spate of data falsification. “These incidents are serious matters that have the potential to adversely affect the trust held in Japan’s manufacturing industry,” he said in October.



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