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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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