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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 6 - 12  > End profit-oriented practices to wipe out corporate scandals
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2017 December 6 - 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

End profit-oriented practices to wipe out corporate scandals

December 6, 2017
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Toray Industries, whose senior advisor is Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chairman Sakakibara Sadayuki, was recently found to have falsified product data after similar scandals were revealed at Kobe Steel and Mitsubishi Materials. These materials companies’ goods are sold to companies in a broad range of industries.

The data fraud involved aluminum, copper, and steel products of the Kobe Steel group which are used as building materials, rubber sealing products of Mitsubishi Materials’ subsidiary, and tire reinforcement materials made by Toray’s subsidiary. These basic materials are used in airplanes, automobiles, nuclear power plants and many other items.

Kobe Steel experienced similar scandals before. Mitsubishi Materials’ subsidiary officials became aware of the wrongdoing by February, but the company kept shipping substandard products until October. Toray’s subsidiary know of the problem already in July 2016.

Despite the seriousness of the incidents, Industry Minister Seko Hiroshige is reluctant to take action. He said in Diet meetings that the falsifications are irregular incidents and that internal investigations are ongoing so it is not necessary for the ministry to look into the matter. Seko sounded as if he has little to do with the scandals.

Many workers point out that corporations’ excessive labor-cost-cutting efforts hurt factories and led to the problematic practices. In scandal-tainted Kobe Steel, the number of employees stands at only one-third of its peak. Many regular employees were replaced with non-regular employees. The workload is becoming unbearably heavy. Workers in their 40s and 50s are supposed to play a key role in the workplace, but they are too few to sufficiently do that. In order to ensure safety in the workplace and quality of products, corporations must review their restructuring policies that result in massive job cuts.

Toray’s misconduct took place for a period of time including when Keidanren Chairman Sakakibara was either the company’s president or the chairperson of the board of directors. Sakakibara is urging Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to implement a consumption tax hike, cuts in social welfare programs, and other reforms that impose further burdens on the general public. The former Toray executive should not be in the position to be able to make such demands.
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