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Corporate bankruptcies in 2009 fell 1.06 percent from a year earlier to 15,480, marking the first drop in four years, Tokyo Shoko Research said Wednesday.

The drop was attributable to government policy steps, including financial aid to small businesses and front-loading public works projects, it said.

The debts left behind by the failed firms in the year dived 43.62 percent to ¥6.93 trillion, the company said. The sharp drop stemmed from the preceding year’s collapse of Lehman Brothers Japan Inc. and affiliated entities, which sharply inflated the failed businesses’ liabilities to over ¥10 trillion.

The tally covers business failures nationwide with ¥10 million or more in debts, the research firm said, noting a turnaround in the second semiannual period.

In the first half of 2009 — the immediate aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse — failures rose 8.2 percent but dropped 9.7 percent in the second half, Tokyo Shoko said.

The firm said recession-linked factors accounted for a record 79.3 percent of all failures. These factors included sluggish sales and the inability to collect due payments.

Among major industrial categories with large bankruptcy cases, the construction sector saw a 8.5 percent drop to 4,087 for the first fall in four years, while the manufacturing industry registered an 11.87 percent increase to 2,619 failures.

Large-scale failures, which left behind at least ¥10 billion in liabilities, slid 16.6 percent to 90. Twenty listed firms failed in the year, mostly in the first half.

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