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Debts left by failed companies amounted to 2.53 trillion yen in the April-September period, the lowest figure for a fiscal first half since fiscal 1991, a credit research agency said Monday.

The April-September debts dropped 12.7 percent from a year earlier, the sixth consecutive decline for a first half, as the number of large business failures leaving debts of 1 billion yen fell to 327, the lowest in 10 years, Tokyo Shoko Research said.

The figures show a declining trend in corporate failures thanks to the economic recovery, government assistance to smaller firms and easier lending terms from public financial institutions, it said.

The government recently announced the economic expansion entered its 57th month in October, matching the longest postwar boom, which ran from November 1965 to July 1970.

The total number of corporate bankruptcies in the six-month period, however, climbed 2.2 percent from a year earlier to 6,531, the first rise in four years. The figure was still the second lowest for a six-month period in 10 years.

Bankrupt companies with five or fewer employees accounted for 61.5 percent of bankruptcies, the highest share for an April-September period in 10 years.

The number of employees affected by corporate failures came to 51,958, the lowest first-half figure in a decade.

Listed companies that collapsed included Advanced Technology and Systems Co., a computer peripherals maker traded on the Osaka Securities Exchange’s Hercules market for startup companies.

The number of bankruptcies rose in six out of 10 sectors: agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining; information and telecommunications; construction; retail; wholesale; and other services. Bankruptcies fell in the transport, manufacturing, real estate and financial services sectors.

In September, corporate failures totaled 1,030, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier but the lowest monthly figure this year. Debts left over from the bankruptcies amounted to 292.82 billion yen, down 50.3 percent and falling below 300 billion yen for the first time in 16 years.

The number of bankrupt companies with five or fewer employees rose 7.9 percent to 623, accounting for 60.4 percent of the total in September.

The data covers corporate bankruptcies with debts of 10 million yen or more.

According to a report by another research firm, Teikoku Databank, the number of bankruptcies rose 8.4 percent from a year before to 4,457 in the April-September period, but the amount of unpaid debt fell 4.3 percent to 2.54 trillion yen.

In September, 667 companies became insolvent, down 0.6 percent from a year before, leaving behind debts of 339.92 billion yen, down 38.3 percent.

The report by Teikoku Databank covers only corporate failures filed with courts and involving debts of 10 million yen or more.

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