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January saw 1,039 corporate bankruptcies filed nationwide, down 13.8 percent from a year earlier for the 25th straight month of decline, a private-sector corporate credit research agency said Tuesday.

But combined debts left by the failed companies expanded 32.0 percent to 598.47 billion yen for the second consecutive month of increase, Teikoku Databank Ltd. said.

The monthly report covers failures with debts of 10 million yen or more.

The agency attributed the continued downswing in bankruptcies to the expanded public assistance for small and midsize enterprises, including the safety-net guarantee program and the guarantee system for refinancing.

There were 430 failed firms forced to discontinue business under court-supervised proceedings, accounting for 41.4 percent of the total and topping 40 percent for the first time, Teikoku Databank said.

In other bankruptcy cases, companies are allowed to continue operations though procedures involving debt waivers and job cuts.

January was the second consecutive month in which there were no bankruptcies of listed companies.

The number of bankruptcies in the construction industry fell to 291 for the 25th straight month of decline.

Of the January total, 755 companies, or 72.7 percent, collapsed due to recession-induced factors, including poor sales and an inability to repay loans.

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