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Toray data fraud caused by 'labor shortage': Report

Client demands for more checks led unit of textile maker to cut corners

Toray President Akihiro Nikkaku bows at a news conference in Tokyo on Nov. 28. (Photo by Tomoki Mera)

TOKYO -- A data fabrication scandal at a unit of industrial textile maker Toray Industries was caused mainly by insufficient staffing, which drove the company to cut corners as it struggled to meet product delivery deadlines, a report published Wednesday said.

The report, which was drawn up by a committee of outside experts, said there was no evidence the parent company was systematically involved in fudging the product inspection data.

In November, Toray announced that it discovered 149 instances of falsified inspection data between 2008 and 2016 at Toray Hybrid Cord's lead plant in Nishio, Aichi Prefecture. The affected products are materials used to strengthen car tires and other auto components.

The products were sold to around 13 companies, including automotive manufacturers, after inspection data was altered to meet contractual requirements for buyers.

"An increase in the number of samples [subject to inspection] requested by clients and other factors put a heavier burden on those in charge," the report said. It concluded that the increased workload and lack of sufficient manpower led to "fear of missed delivery deadlines." The data was fabricated to speed up shipments.

The committee denied "systematic involvement" by Toray, blaming "only two successive quality control managers" for the decision to fake the inspection data.

The report pointed to three specific problems related to the data falsification: unqualified people carrying out quality control procedures; a failure by Toray Hybrid Cord to create a system to spot misconduct; and a lack of interest in quality assurance.

The investigators found that in addition to the quality-assurance inspections themselves, a surge in the number of samples that clients asked to be checked for defects and other factors put the Toray unit "in a state of labor shortage."

The committee said the data doctoring was driven by concerns that the company would not be able to meet the required quality specifications and would miss delivery dates. Although it found no legal violations or problems with product safety, it urged "the group as a whole to beef up legal compliance regarding quality control" to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

In response to the report, Toray will appoint executives to oversee quality assurance throughout the group, and set up a department to execute that task. 

(Nikkei)

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