Japanese High Tech's Five Circles of Hell

A worker configures the software system and programs on Panasonic laptops at the company's plant in Kobe City, Japan. Photograph by Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Japan’s electronics sector is in a world of pain at the moment. In late February, Elpida Memory (6665:JP), the world’s third-largest maker of PC memory chips, filed for bankruptcy, with $5.6 billion in debt, in the biggest-ever corporate failure for a Japanese manufacturer. Olympus (7733:JP) has been laid low by scandal. Sometime in May, Sony is expected to report a fiscal year loss of about $1.1 billion. This is no passing squall for Japan’s flagship industry. Richard Katz, editor-in-chief of The Oriental Economist Report (subscription required), has crunched the numbers on the sector in recent research reports and has come up with some startling statistics that portray a once-world-beating industry in deep trouble. Here are five of those identified by Katz.

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