The number of corporate bankruptcies fell by 14.6 percent in 2003 from the previous year to 16,624, down for the first time in four years, Teikoku Databank Ltd. said Monday.

Combined debts left by failed companies across the nation dropped 14.4 percent to 11.77 trillion yen for the third straight year of decline, the credit research firm said in a report covering failures involving liabilities of 10 million yen or more.

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