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The number of corporate bankruptcies rose 1.4 percent to 1,169 in August from the previous year, but it was the third-lowest figure for any August in the past 10 years, a private credit research agency said Thursday.

Debts left by the failed companies were the second-lowest for the month over the last decade at 407.48 billion yen, although the figure is up 25.3 percent from the previous year, Tokyo Shoko Research said.

While bankruptcies were relatively few thanks to continuing economic improvement and government assistance for small- and midsize businesses, smaller firms still accounted for the bulk of companies that went under, it said.

The firms that went bankrupt with debts of less than 100 million yen numbered 780, the second-highest figure for this year, and 66.7 percent of the total.

The percentage of failed companies with fewer than five employees topped 60 percent for the first time in two months.

Bankruptcies that led to outright closure of businesses hit a record high of 674, up 16.0 percent.

The number of employees at all the bankrupt companies was more than 10,000 for the first time in 10 months.

One so-called third-sector, or semigovernmental, company became insolvent, bringing failures in that business category to eight so far this year.

The number of bankrupt companies increased in six industrial sectors out of 10 monitored. The six sectors are agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining, information-telecommunications, services, construction, retail and wholesale.

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