Japanese chemical maker announces that ‘quality-related improprieties’ were detected in 24 of its products, including low-density polyethylene

The Japanese chemical company Ube has withheld the pay of its president, along with some of its board members and executives, in response to revelations that the company has been carrying out improper quality checks on products, perhaps for decades. Newly-released results from an internal review identified 16 cases of ‘quality-related improprieties’ covering 24 products, including low-density polyethylene and limestone aggregate.

Overall, the committee investigating the lax inspections found that Ube paid insufficient attention to quality and prioritised manufacturing instead. To help address the problem, the company has agree to establish a new department that will, among other things, monitor and evaluate quality control, as well as implement quality assessment and training programmes.

To assume responsibility for the lapses in quality review, Ube’s president, Yuzuru Yamamoto, will relinquish his entire salary for June, and five other board members and executives, including Chairman Michio Takeshita, will face 30–60% pay cuts for the month.

The improprieties in quality checks for polyethylene partly stem from the overlap between the manufacturing and quality assurance departments of Ube-Maruzen Polyethylene and the organisational bodies of Ube Industries’ Chiba Petrochemical Factory, according to the review committee’s report. It concluded that the employees from Ube Industries essentially worked on assignment at Ube-Maruzen Polyethylene while holding concurrent positions at both companies, and so were under overlapping chains of command. To rectify the situation, Ube has agreed to place all of its employees under the single chain of command of Ube’s Chiba Petrochemical Factory.