©Toyota

In this report

Japan’s automotive companies are competing hard to remain technological frontrunners but its consumer electronics industry continues to falter

Abenomics under pressure

Modernisation programme brings dilemmas and upheaval for businesses and policy makers

Start-up capitalises on Japan’s ageing population

Ventures that solve problems can expect to reap rewards

Abe employs more carrot than stick in drive to consolidation

Japanese companies are shy of takeovers and mergers

Robots earn keep with serious engineering

Humanoid models may help promote manufacturers’ abilities but they need a practical purpose

Dr Masayo Takahashi of the Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Stem cell scientist warns on profits

Masayo Takahashi is wary of high expectations for making money from pioneering research

Comment: patent protection helped drugs industry modernise

Innovation is changing but Japan still lacks venture capital and other measures to bring new drug ideas to market, writes P Reed Maurer

‘Levitating’ train boosts hopes for growth

SCMaglev will be world’s fastest service and among the most expensive but the rewards could be considerable

a high-tech toilet on display in London
©Charlie Bibby

High-tech toilet manufacturers seek to make a splash in the west

Toto and Inax hope to persuade consumers to buy what is regarded as a Japanese oddity

The Dubai-based hub is expected to reach a capacity of 100,000 tonnes of basmati rice this year

Rice shines as it passes chewing gum test

Most Japanese prefer the grain buffed to its core

Self-driving cars: automakers stress safety over excitement

Manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan want vehicles rolling off mass production lines by the end of the decade

Land of rising sun pins hopes on increased use of solar power

Nuclear disaster started race to find alternatives

2012

Japan seeks new normal after March 2011 disaster

Capacity to adapt essential to tackle challenges

Generation: Disaster spurs moves to find fresh sources of energy

The power station catastrophe may eventually bring positive long-term outcomes, reports Lucy Birmingham

Tsunami aftermath: Country weighs greener options after Fukushima

Nuclear shutdown raises financial and logistical issues, says Michiyo Nakamoto

After the tsunami

Battery-powered cars: Bumps ahead for electric vehicles

Shutdown of nuclear stations dents their green credentials, says Jonathan Soble

Robots for rehabilitation

Engineers in Japan are finding a practical use for their machines in hospitals

Health: Robotics take giant strides for mankind

Machines are being devised to help rehabilitate people who have lost the use of limbs and to assist the elderly, writes Jonathan Soble

Science: Award for stem cell work shows benefit of collaborative research

Nobel winner calls for more support from government, writes Clive Cookson

Computing: Machine goes through works to take Tokyo’s toughest test

Mure Dickie reports on an artificial brain being prepared to sit exams

William H. Saito: Embrace failure to nurture entrepreneurs

Gavin Blair learns why it is women who will save the nation

Smart cities: Tsunami brings rethink on sustainability

The 2011 disaster has prompted more focused development of renewable and secure urban energy systems, writes Sarah Murray

Sapporo: Philanthropic assistance offers a cleaner future for metropolis

Partnership profits both sides, says Sarah Murray

Wind power: Hopes high for offshore turbines despite hurdles

The nation could be a good location for offshore power generation, writes Ben McLannahan

Pharmaceuticals: Industrial partnerships prove a successful formula for research

Tape maker’s role in drug project typifies companies’ approach to innovation, says Jonathan Soble