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Kobe Steel data distortion started in 1970s, faked radioactive waste data

Staff Writer |
Kobe Steel released a report based on a third-party probe into its falsification of product data, which concluded that the irregularities stemmed from the company's focus on revenue and its closed corporate culture.

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It was also revealed that the falsification of data started in the 1970s. The company's tough measures to get back on track included renewing its board of directors and shaking up companies in the Kobe Steel group.

In a news conference, the company's chairman and president, Hiroya Kawasaki, whose resignation as CEO has been approved, said he understood that three current operating officers were aware of the data falsification, and admitted that two former executives were directly involved before they took up their positions.

Sixteen pieces of data relating to the underground disposal of highly radioactive waste generated by nuclear reactors, which scandal-hit Kobe Steel Ltd. and a subsidiary analyzed at the request of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), were falsified, forged or flawed in other ways, the nuclear research organization said.

The government-affiliated JAEA, which commissioned Kobe Steel and its subsidiary Kobelco Research Institute Inc. to analyze data on the impact of burying highly radioactive waste deep underground, has demanded that the steelmaker redo the work.

Kobe Steel expressed regret over the matter. "We'll do our best to prevent a recurrence," said a company official.

According to the JAEA, the data in question includes that on the corrosion of metal used for cladding tubes and containers for spent nuclear fuel.

Between fiscal 2012 and 2016, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) commissioned the JAEA to conduct the analyses, and the agency farmed out the work to the steelmaker and its subsidiary.

JAEA officials said most of the data was not accompanied by records of experiments conducted in the analyses, or had intentionally been altered.


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