The top business news stories of 2017

The Japan Times newsroom selected these economy and technology stories as the most important of 2017.

1. Morass of data scandals: Kobe Steel Ltd., Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Toray Industries Inc. were all swept up in data falsification scandals, damaging Japan’s reputation for high-quality production.


In the glare: Toshiba Corp. President Satoshi Tsunakawa leaves a news conference in August after acknowledging the firm was having trouble selling its memory chip unit.
In the glare: Toshiba Corp. President Satoshi Tsunakawa leaves a news conference in August after acknowledging the firm was having trouble selling its memory chip unit. | BLOOMBERG

2. Toshiba crisis: Toshiba Corp. incurred massive losses stemming from the bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear energy firm, Westinghouse. But the struggling Japanese conglomerate later agreed on the ¥2 trillion sale of its chip unit to a Japan-U.S.-South Korea consortium. It also ended a months-long legal battle with its partner in the venture, Western Digital.


A past trip: Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn inspects parts on a visit to the company
A past trip: Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn inspects parts on a visit to the company’s factory in Kaminokawa, Tochigi Prefecture, in 2013. | KYODO

3. Controversial car inspection: Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. admitted they allowed uncertified workers to conduct final safety inspection on vehicles, causing widespread controversy and a temporary halt on shipments.


Getting handy: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, U.S. President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull participate in the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila in November.
Getting handy: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, U.S. President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull participate in the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila in November. | REUTERS

4. Closer to free trade?: The Trump administration announced in January its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and other members later reached a deal without Washington. Earlier this month, Japan agreed with the EU on a giant free trade deal, eliminating tariffs on 94 percent of imports from the EU. The bloc will eliminate tariffs on 99 percent of its imports from Japan.


An unfortunate turn of events: Shigehisa Takada, chairman and CEO of Takata Corp., leaves a news conference in June.
An unfortunate turn of events: Shigehisa Takada, chairman and CEO of Takata Corp., leaves a news conference in June. | BLOOMBERG

5. Takata’s bankruptcy: Air bag maker Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in June — Japan’s biggest postwar corporate failure in the manufacturing sector.


On the road: A Yamato Transport Co. driver uses a Breathalyzer before setting off from a branch of the delivery company in May.
On the road: A Yamato Transport Co. driver uses a Breathalyzer before setting off from a branch of the delivery company in May. | BLOOMBERG

6. Delivery woe: Due to rapidly increasing demand for package deliveries from online shopping and industry labor shortages, Japan’s major home-delivery companies face a challenge as they struggle to keep up.


Money matters: A Bitcoin rests atop money from various other countries. The online currency experienced a roller-coaster of a ride as it fluctuated in value.
Money matters: A Bitcoin rests atop money from various other countries. The online currency experienced a roller-coaster of a ride as it fluctuated in value. | GETTY IMAGES / VIA KYODO

7. Bitcoin bubble?: Bitcoin soared and continued to break record highs. The price of the largest cryptocurrency by market value briefly surged more than 17-fold this year to pass $17,000.


The perfect shot: A tourist takes a photograph at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo
The perfect shot: A tourist takes a photograph at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district in January. | BLOOMBERG

8. Open doors: In June, the Diet passed a law that allows short-term housing rentals under certain conditions. The law will take effect in June next year, opening a new market for minpaku, private residences that take in lodgers.


Test drive: A Tokyo Motor Show attendee tries out a Nissan Motor Co. IMX electric concept vehicle in October.
Test drive: A Tokyo Motor Show attendee tries out a Nissan Motor Co. IMX electric concept vehicle in October. | BLOOMBERG

9. Global EV shift: A policy shift toward electric vehicles is accelerating across the globe. France and Britain have already announced they will end the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2040. China is also eyeing ban on fossil fuel-powered cars.


Listen up: Amazon Echo devices are part of the AI-powered smart speaker push that aims to revolutionize how some households operate.
Listen up: Amazon Echo devices are part of the AI-powered smart speaker push that aims to revolutionize how some households operate. | KYODO

10. Smart speakers: AI-powered smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Line Clova Wave caused a lot of buzz as they could revolutionize the way we conduct our daily tasks.