Participants arrive for the general shareholders meeting of Kobe Steel Ltd. in Kobe on Thursday
KOBE (Jiji Press) — The chief of Kobe Steel Ltd. apologized to shareholders on Thursday over a product data falsification scandal involving the company. “We deeply apologize for causing inconvenience to shareholders and clients,” Mitsugu Yamaguchi, Kobe Steel president and chief executive officer, said at a general meeting of shareholders in Kobe. “We are working in a unified manner to prevent similar misconduct from happening again,” said Yamaguchi, promising to revamp the corporate culture of the company to restore trust. The management was grilled by many participants at the shareholders’ meeting, the first since Kobe Steel announced the data falsification on its aluminum, copper and other products in October last year. A participating shareholder argued that the scandal undermined trust in Kobe Steel, one of Japan’s leading companies. The meeting was attended by 497 shareholders, up 103 from the previous year, and lasted 1 hour 45 minutes. Kobe Steel had manipulated product quality data, including of products used for automobiles and airplanes, since at least the 1970s and shipped affected products to a total of 688 customer companies. In March, the company released the results of an external investigation into the misconduct, as well as announced preventive measures and the resignation of then Chairman, President and CEO Hiroya Kawasaki. “We take [the move by investigative authorities] seriously and will respond in good faith,” Yamaguchi told the shareholders.