Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

TOKYO (Reuters) – Officials in Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, on Thursday ordered a company that falsified data on the quality of its quake shock absorbers to replace its products in hundreds of buildings.

KYB Corp, a major producer of the devices used to reduce shaking in a quake, said on Tuesday that data related to their quality and that of products made by a subsidiary, had been falsified since 2003, and possibly even as far back as 2000.

Government officials said there was no risk that buildings would collapse as a result, even in a severe quake, but they were trying to determine how many structures were affected.

The company said at least 900 buildings around Japan had used products that could be involved in the data falsification.

The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634-metre (2,080-ft) -high tower that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions, said it had installed KYB products, while Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said they had been used in at least seven buildings owned by the metropolitan government.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism urged KYB to take full responsibility and determine how the falsification happened, to take steps to replace the shock absorbers and make sure it never occurs again.

“This action, which has brought deep concern to building owners and users as well as weakening public trust about safety, is extremely regrettable,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said it had been told KYB products were used at several venues for the summer Olympics, but did not identify them or give any other details.

“We are aware that the Tokyo metropolitan government has already requested the company to inspect the products, and we will wait for further updates,” said spokesman Masa Takaya.

A Tokyo government official said it was possible KYB products had been used in the aquatics center and an arena to be used for volleyball, which are both under construction, but authorities were awaiting further information.

The most common of several types of shock absorbers used in buildings features a piston that moves inside a cylinder filled with silicone oil.

Shares of KYB ended trade down by 10.92 percent.

(The story corrects paragraph 1 to drop locations; paragraph 4 to make clear products could be, rather than are, involved.)

Reporting by Elaine Lies, Ami Miyazaki, and Chang-ran Kim; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel

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