In this report

Among investors, Japan is often still seen as the spiritual home of the flabby conglomerate, but there is a renewed focus on technology and innovation and companies are not only making advances in robotics, there are also big changes coming in electronics, especially for the automotive industry.

Titans slim down and fight back

An attendant, right, shows a Panasonic Corp. Viera 4K television to a visitor at the Cutting-Edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC) in Chiba, Japan, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
©Bloomberg/Kiyoshi Ota

Some companies are finally trying to improve shareholder returns

Sharp's free-form display

Sharp displays may be the shape of things to come

Growth is likely to come from the auto sector as consumer electronics slows

Isamu Akasaki (left) and Hiroshi Amano
©Kaz Photography/Getty

Tighter budgets constrain scope of academic research

The view that all research must be commercialised limits discovery

Octopus payment system

Mobile phones: Early adopters ring the changes with payment revolution

Phones will replace wallets with the next iteration of contactless payments

Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, knew his workers’ potential and could put it to the best possible use

Successors lack the necessary insight to nurture talent and innovation

Top executives tend to focus on cost competitiveness rather than innovation and businesses shrink as a result

(left to right) prototype humanoids created by Asratec, Toshiba and Aldebaran are designed for use in construction and domestic work

The ghost in the machine gets smarter

Outside investors seek to monetise opportunities, in rescue, healthcare and reconnaissance

Akira Morikawa

Animated bears and bunnies score a hit with big business

A chat-app sensation and a video-sharing site show that cute conquers all – especially when backed by venture capital

Start-up scene begins to gain traction after slow start

One of the ‘seven pillars’ for shaking up the economy is to make life easier for risk takers

A long way to go: where are all the salarywomen?
©Bloomberg/Tomohiro Ohsumi

Abe’s ‘womenomics’ aims to alter Japan labour dynamic

The targets for female participation are worthy but ambitious

Kotatsu Parka

Portable rooms and face exercisers look set to win fans

Recent inventions show Japan’s appetite for the extraordinary remains undimmed