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Mitsubishi Electric quality scandal widens to 70% of its Japan factories

Mitsubishi Electric cheated on inspections and engaged in other bad behavior at 70% of its factories in Japan, according to the latest report in an ongoing investigation that points to deep-seated problems at one of the nation’s leading industrial groups.

Wednesday’s third interim report revealed 101 additional cases, bringing the total to 148 cases. Cases have been found at 16 of the company’s 22 domestic factories, or about 70%.

Quality control lapses have been found in a wide range of products spanning factory automation equipment, automobile components, elevators and electric power systems. Misconduct was found at the design stage, as well as in quality inspections, according to the report.

“Procedures were disregarded, with the justification that ‘it’s fine so long as there are no substantial quality issues,'” said Hiroshi Kimeda, the lawyer chairing the investigative committee.

The probe revealed that “there were many people who thought nothing was wrong with the situation,” Kimeda said.

Deliberate manipulation was uncovered in 66 cases, and managers were aware of such cheating in 15 of them. Some may involve violations of laws and regulations, according to the report.

The investigation by an independent committee has yet to examine nearly 20% of matters requiring a closer look and is not expected to be completed until the fall.

The newly uncovered lapses “do not include cases where there are problems with safety,” a Mitsubishi Electric spokesperson said.

A number of quality control scandals have emerged at Mitsubishi Electric since 2018. In June 2021, improper checks of rail car equipment were revealed at a plant in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The investigative committee was established the following month. Its probe was initially expected to end in April, but the timeline has since been pushed back after improper testing of power transformers was uncovered that month. The previous interim report was released in December.

The company’s chairman and president at the time of last year’s revelations have since stepped down.

“We are fully cooperating with the investigation to find the true causes, and we intend to conduct thorough reforms,” President and CEO Kei Uruma told a news conference Wednesday.

Mitsubishi Electric also said executive compensation is now linked to environmental, social and governance factors in addition to earnings, starting this fiscal year. Nikkei Asia

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