Hitachi unit’s faulty inspections expand to auto and display parts

A chemical product unit of Hitachi Ltd. said Friday it has confirmed improper inspections of its auto parts, display materials and other products, in another revelation of unreliable quality testing in the Japanese manufacturing industry.

Hitachi Chemical Co. said the number of companies that contracted to purchase the products in question had risen to 2,400 from the 500 it had disclosed in June, when it admitted to faulty inspections of industrial batteries. It also revealed improper testing of materials to protect semiconductors on Monday.

“I offer a deep apology for causing concern to related parties,” President and Chief Executive Officer Hisashi Maruyama said at a news conference in Tokyo. He said he would not step down to take responsibility for the time being, citing an ongoing investigation on the improper inspections.

Hitachi Chemical said its employees did not conduct inspections agreed on with clients and also rewrote inspection data so that it would conform to the specifications ordered by them, with such cases dating as far back as 10 years ago.

Although the faulty products include those shipped to automakers and for nuclear facilities, Maruyama sees no safety issues as the contracting companies have conducted quality inspections on their own.

As a reason for the malpractice, Maruyama cited employees as saying they wanted to cut short the time spent on inspections to meet delivery deadlines.

In June, the Hitachi unit unveiled data fabrication on some 60,000 units of industrial lead-acid batteries from April 2011 to June this year and set up the investigation panel the following month.

The latest announcement came on the heels of a slew of quality data cheating admitted by major Japanese manufacturers, including Kobe Steel Ltd., Subaru Corp. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp.

Industrial product maker KYB Corp. also recently said its employees falsified quality data for earthquake shock absorbers used in hundreds of buildings across the country.

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