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The number of corporate bankruptcies in Japan in fiscal 2004 fell to 13,276, slipping below 14,000 for the first time in 13 years, private credit research firm Teikoku Databank said Thursday.

The research firm attributed the fall partly to the government’s expanded loan guarantee program for smaller firms.

Bankruptcies for the year to March 31 shrank 15.9 percent from the previous year, falling for the third straight year, according to the research firm.

Combined debts left by bankrupt firms dropped 34.1 percent from the previous year to 7.04 trillion yen, down for the fourth consecutive year, it said in a report covering failures involving debts of 10 million yen or more.

The number of failures also slipped because the government expanded the variety of rehabilitation programs available for small and midsize companies, it said.

There were four bankruptcies involving debts greater than 100 billion yen — two golf course operators and two real estate companies.

The drop in construction industry failures was noteworthy.

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