The number of corporate bankruptcies fell 11.4 percent in January from a year earlier, but liabilities left behind rose 14.2 percent to 1.22 trillion yen, the largest January figure in the postwar period, Teikoku Databank Ltd. said Monday.

It was the first time in two months for the number of bankruptcies to fall. The final tally came to 1,436, but the private credit-research agency said wild fluctuations means that figure could increase in the months ahead.

The latest tabulation brought the number of fiscal 2002 bankruptcies through January to 15,774, boosting the likelihood that the number will top 19,000 for the entire business year, which ends March 31, Teikoku said.

The agency said the amount of liabilities was expanded by a series of large-scale bankruptcies in the real-estate sector, including those of Shoei Fudosan K.K., with debts of 150 billion yen, and Taiheiyo Kanko Kaihatsu Co., with liabilities of 116.4 billion yen.

The bankruptcy data cover failures involving liabilities of 10 million yen or more.

In January, two unrelated listed firms with the same name went bust — Takarabune Corp., a Kyoto-based confectionery company listed on the first section of the Osaka and Nagoya bourses, and Takarabune Co., a furniture retailer based in Saitama Prefecture that was listed on the over-the-counter market.

Recession-induced failures or those caused by poor sales and exports, difficulties recovering sales credits and an industry slump came to 1,108, accounting for 77.2 percent of the total.

Failures of companies that had been in business for 30 years or more numbered 397, accounting for 27.6 percent of the January bankruptcies.

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