• The Associated Press


A record 214,634 individuals filed for bankruptcy in 2002 as Japan continued to struggle with its now chronic economic slump, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The figure was up 33.8 percent from 160,457 the previous year, according to Supreme Court spokesman Isao Umezawa.

Individual bankruptcies have been on the rise amid increasing corporate failures, restructuring and pay cuts.

The unemployment rate remains at record levels, and a government study late last year showed about half of the nation’s unemployed had no income.

Separately, 13,495 other people filed for court protection under a new insolvency law introduced in April 2001 that is aimed at reducing repayment burdens for those with stable income and debts smaller than 30 million yen, the Supreme Court said.

Individual bankruptcies accounted for 95 percent of all cases filed in 2002, Umezawa said.

Corporate insolvencies totaled 19,458 in 2002, up 0.1 percent from a year earlier, marking the second-highest figure in the postwar period, the private credit agency Teikoku Data Bank said in January.

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