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By Yuka Obayashi
TOKYO (Reuters) - The Kobe Steel plant at the centre of a data-falsification scandal that has shaken supply chains around the world has been stripped of all its industrial quality certifications, the Japanese government said on Wednesday.
In another blow to the embattled steelmaker, the government-sanctioned seal on insulated copper tubing from Kobe's Hatano plant, one of its main copper product plants, was revoked after an investigation by a certification firm into its quality controls, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement.
The plant southwest of Tokyo has also lost its ISO 9001 quality certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO), Japan Quality Assurance Organization said.
Earlier, the plant was stripped of its Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) seal for seamless copper pipe products used for air conditioning and refrigerators, as part of the fallout of one of Japan's biggest industrial scandals.
Having the quality seals revoked means the company can no longer sell the products with the JIS label, potentially restricting the number of customers that want to buy them and reducing its sales.
But the plant may be forced to stop shipping some products if the ISO 9001 certification was among the conditions set out in contracts with customers, the spokesman said.
"There will be some impact on our business as we have lost credibility in our quality assurance system, but it is not clear how much impact we will face," he said.
Industry experts said customers may switch suppliers or pick Kobe's competitors for future orders although the short-term impact may be reduced by the limited availability of substitute products.
Japan's third-largest steelmaker, which supplies producers of cars, planes, trains and other products across the world, said last month that about 500 of its customers had received products with falsified specifications.
Nissan said earlier on Wednesday it had been informed that the ISO 9001 certification of its plants and those of affiliate Nissan Shatai had been revoked for production of Japan-bound vehicles.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim, Himani Sarkar and Hugh Lawson)