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

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By Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese officials on Thursday ordered a company that falsified data on the quality of its earthquake shock absorbers to replace its products in hundreds of buildings, including a major tourist site and venues for the 2020 Olympics.

KYB Corp, a major producer of the shock absorbers, which reduce shaking of buildings during a quake, said on Tuesday that data related to the quality of its products and those made by a subsidiary, had been falsified since 2003, and possibly even since 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 in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

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

The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634-metre high tower that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions, said it had installed KYB products, while Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said the items 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 to 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 of the venues for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics but it did not identify the venues 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 Masa Takaya, a spokesman for Tokyo 2020.

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

Several kinds of shock absorbers are used in buildings, but one of the most common involves a piston head that moves inside a cylinder filled with silicone oil.

Shares of KYB ended trade down by 10.92 percent.

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