* Prosecutors, police search HQs and plants -media
* Firm also subject of U.S. Justice Department probe (Recasts with comments, background)
TOKYO, June 5 (Reuters) - Kobe Steel Ltd said on Tuesday it had been raided by Japanese regulators over a data tampering scandal revealed last year which had continued for almost 50 years.
Prosecutors and police searched its headquarters in Tokyo and Kobe, western Japan, as well as other facilities on suspicion that the firm violated a law aimed at preventing unfair competition, local media reported.
“We have been subject to a raid since this morning and we are sincerely responding (to the regulators),” a Kobe Steel spokesman said, adding that the firm could not give any further comment.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment on the investigation.
Kobe Steel, which supplies steel and aluminium parts to manufacturers of cars, planes and trains around the world, has admitted to supplying products with falsified specifications to more than 600 customers and admitted the data fraud has been going on for nearly five decades.
In April, Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker said it was under investigation by Japanese authorities over its data falsification, widening a scandal that undermined faith in Japan’s industrial sector last year. The latest raid comes as part of that investigation.
Kobe Steel is also the subject of a U.S. Justice Department probe.
Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs