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Tokyo Stock Exchange Outage Puts Spotlight on Fujitsu System

Vlad Savov, Yuki Furukawa and Gearoid Reidy
·3-min read

(Bloomberg) --

The Tokyo Stock Exchange suffered its worst outage ever on Thursday, taking trading offline for the day and casting the spotlight on the computer system that the bourse developed in collaboration with Fujitsu Ltd.

The operator of the world’s third biggest exchange said the outage was due to issues within the Arrowhead system and that it asked Fujitsu to investigate the hardware involved. The TSE says it’s working to resume operations Friday, and will announce around 7:30 p.m. Japan time if it is ready to do so.

But at a hastily arranged press conference to explain the day’s events, Tokyo Stock Exchange officials said they were the ones responsible for the problems, rather than any supplier. The exchange is not considering seeking damages from Fujitsu.

“All the responsibility lies with us as the market operator,” said Koichiro Miyahara, the exchange’s chief executive officer. “Fujitsu is merely a vendor that supplies the equipment.”

Fujitsu spokesman Takeo Tanaka said the company would work with the exchange to prevent further troubles.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused to the concerned parties because of a failure in the hardware we delivered,” he said.

The Arrowhead system, introduced in January 2010, proved resilient during the powerful earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. Strong shaking was felt in buildings in Tokyo but trading remained uninterrupted. However, a computer glitch in 2012 halted trading hundreds of securities, while a system error later that year took derivatives trading offline for over an hour.

In 2015, Fujitsu and the exchange launched an overhaul under the banner of “Never Stop!,” acknowledging their close collaboration as a unified team and the focus on ensuring reliable operation given the importance of the TSE to global markets. Among the changes implemented then was a new modular approach that could disconnect malfunctioning servers and offload their processing tasks without data loss, thereby maintaining operation in the event of errors.

The latest upgrade to the computer system underpinning the TSE was announced in November, with Fujitsu noting it consists of 400 Fujitsu Server PRIMERGY RX2540 M4 units and has triple redundancy “enabling the system to switch servers in seconds when there is a fault.” Speed improvements at the time meant information delivery delay would be halved to 0.5 milliseconds and order response time would be reduced by a third to 0.2 milliseconds.

The current version of Arrowhead was installed in November 2019, exchange officials said at the press conference.

Read more: Tokyo Bourse Halts Trading for Entire Day in Worst-Ever Outage

While there’s no definitive explanation of the disruption, there were no indications the outage was related to hacking, the exchange said. The halt prompted a reaction from Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the top government spokesman, who said it was “extremely regrettable” that trading opportunities have been restricted.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency has been reaching out to brokerages to examine the impact of the incident on clients, people with knowledge of the matter said.

(Updates with resumption of trading on Friday in second paragraph)

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