Computer glitch knocks out Tokyo Stock Exchange for the day

Koichiro Miyahara, president and CEO of the Tokyo Stock Exchange
Koichiro Miyahara, center, president and CEO of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and other officers at a news conference Thursday.
(Eugene Hoshiko / Associated Press)

The Tokyo Stock Exchange plans to resume normal operations Friday after it halted trading for the entire day Thursday owing to what it said was a malfunction in its computer systems — the worst such outage ever.

There was no indication that the outage at the world’s third-largest exchange resulted from hacking or other cybersecurity breaches.

“We are extremely sorry for the troubles we have caused,” Koichiro Miyahara, president and CEO of the exchange, told reporters late Thursday.


The exchange issued a statement later saying it would open as usual Friday. It said it foresaw no problems with resuming trading.

Miyahara and other exchange officials said a computer hardware device they called “Machine 1” failed, and the backup, “Machine 2,” didn’t kick in, so stock price information was not being relayed properly.

The officials characterized the problem as a memory malfunction.

U.S. stocks rallied Wednesday, but only after zooming up, down and back up again in a fitting end to what was a wild month and quarter for Wall Street.

Sept. 30, 2020

They said that rebooting the system during a trading session would have caused confusion for investors and other market participants.

Perplexed passersby studied quote-less electronic screens in Tokyo’s financial district, and newspapers’ evening editions carried listed companies’ names but blank prices.

Brokerages fielded a flood of calls from frustrated investors.

“There should be a Plan B,” Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, told broadcaster NHK.


In it stock market debut, data mining firm Palantir failed to match its last private valuation.

Sept. 30, 2020

The Tokyo exchange is the world’s third-largest bourse after the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, with a market capitalization of nearly $6 trillion.

Foreigners account for about 70% of all brokerage trading in the Tokyo exchange, both in terms of value and volume, so news of the outage left investors both in Japan and overseas wondering what happened.

The malfunction of basic hardware drew attention to vulnerabilities in the country’s digital systems. Newly appointed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has made upgrading such infrastructure a priority, viewing it as critical to Japan’s competitiveness.

Previous outages occurred when the huge “Arrowhead” system created by Fujitsu to handle its electronic trading, which officials said involves some 350 servers, became overwhelmed with too many orders at one time.

That’s what happened Oct. 9, 2018, according to a release on the Tokyo exchange’s website. But during that disruption, some backup systems for trading continued to function, as was the case in earlier outages.

The exchange promised at the time to investigate, conduct malfunction tests and change the system to ensure that a flood of orders would not cause the entire system to stop working. Several top executives of the exchange were penalized.

Despite such occasional disruptions, Miyahara said the motto of the exchange was “Never stop.”

Asked about possible losses caused by the outage, he said the exchange was focusing on fixing the problem.