By mid-morning the Toshiba Science Museum in Kawasaki is full of primary school children, eager to be immersed in technology, innovation and a bold vision of the future. They are captivated by the pride of Toshiba: a humanoid robot that glides smoothly into view and presents the guide with a cup of tea. The robot, made of wood and string, was state of the art automaton technology when it was built in the 1830s: a talisman from the pre-dawn of Japan’s modernisation, created by the founder of a company that nurses an acute sense of its place in a nation’s history. It is a place that looks vulnerable as Toshiba buckles under an intensifying storm of scandal, cover-up, a failure of governance and a soured nuclear gamble. In 2015, when the company confessed to falsifying its profits to the tune of more than $1bn, many felt Toshiba had hit a nadir. But late last month, the company revealed that its problems went far deeper and that it faced a multibillion-dollar writedown on its US nuclea...

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