Japan’s vaunted Mitsubishi corporation has temporarily lost ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications for dozens of its sites, in what the company called, “certain quality-related conduct.”

Oxebridge was able to confirm that Mitsubishi had faced a complaint that led to a formal internal investigation which uncovered widespread quality issues and fraud, spanning at least two dozen Mitsubishi sites. The problems were uncovered in 2021, and possibly earlier, and included fraudulent completion of inspection and test results, alongside thousands of tests that were never conducted at all. It is not clear if that complaint came from an external party, such as a customer, or an employee whistleblower.

Despite the problems and an internal Mitsubishi investigation already underway as of July 2021, the AS9100 certification body Defense Structure Improvement Foundation (“BSK” in Japanese) repeatedly found no issues during multiple surveillance audits. Official IAQG OASIS data shows that at least three audits were conducted by BSK during the period.

In October of 2022, nearly a year later, BSK finally suspended some of Mitsubishi’s AS9100 certifications, prompted by the public exposure of the scandal.

The suspension for many of the sites was short-lived. The company’s Communications System Center in Amagasaki-city, Hyogo Prefecture, has already had its suspension lifted, just a few months after it was instituted. It is not clear if the other sites remain suspended, or if the suspension has been lifted for Mitsubishi entirely.

According to official Mitsubishi documents, their investigation into the causes of the widespread fraud continues, and the issues are not fully closed. It is not clear why BSK gave the Communications System Center a clean bill of health.

Japan has proven to be an unreliable partner in the world’s ISO and AS accreditation schemes, with well-known global companies routinely maintaining certifications even as fraud and corruption are reported, even after the arrest of company executives. The Japan Accreditation Board (JAB) remains resistant to improving its oversight of the nation’s certification bodies, creating a dramatic image problem for a country that alleges to hold high standards for quality.

Likewise, the IAQG has resisted enforcing rules on aerospace accreditation bodies and their CBs, allowing fraud to run rampant throughout the AS9100 certification scheme. The IAQG has actually worked to shut down investigations and complaints into “approved” certification bodies, including formal reports of AS9100 CBs violating international law.

Ironically, the IAQG has leaned heavily into using a Mitsubishi representative, Suguro Watanabe, as their public relations mouthpiece. Mr. Watanabe, however, works for Mitsubishi Heavy Equipment, which is not one of the companies currently involved in the AS9100 fraud scandal.

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Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.