There were 14,236 registered nonbank lenders in Japan at the end fiscal 2005, which ended March, down 20.9 percent from the previous year, as many consumer credit firms shut their doors in the face of tighter regulations, the Financial Services Agency said Wednesday.

The number of nonbank lenders has been falling in recent years as the FSA has imposed stricter rules on lending and cracked down on loan sharks.

After hitting a peak of nearly 40,000 during the economic bubble of the late 1980s, the number shrank to 23,708 at the end of March 2004, and declined to 18,005 at the end of March 2005.

The figure is expected to continue dropping because the FSA is looking to tighten regulations still further in response to the rising number of heavily indebted borrowers.

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