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Debts left by failed companies in January more than tripled from a year earlier to ¥838.99 billion due to the collapse of Japan Airlines Corp., a credit research company said Monday.

The number of corporate bankruptcies in January, however, dropped 21.8 percent to 1,063, a decline for the sixth consecutive month and falling below the 1,100 mark for the first time in 25 months, due to economic stimulus measures taken by the government, Tokyo Shoko Research said.

As part of the stimulus measures, the government awarded public works contracts ahead of schedule and tried to make financing smaller firms easier.

JAL and two group firms alone accounted for 89.2 percent of the total liabilities, the research company said. JAL filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 19 in the biggest nonfinancial corporate failure since the war.

Of 10 major industries surveyed, all except for two — information and telecommunications services, and the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industry — saw an increase in bankruptcies.

The breakdown of the major industries shows there was a significant increase in bankruptcies among firms serving consumers, including supermarket operators, companies in the entertainment business, and restaurant and other food service firms.

While the case of major corporate failures involving debts of at least ¥1 billion decreased 37.3 percent, companies employing only four or fewer workers accounted for 66.3 percent of the total bankruptcies, the highest in the past year.

Workers affected by corporate bankruptcies totaled 22,892, exceeding 20,000 for the first time in seven years and 10 months.

According to Teikoku Databank, another private credit research firm, liabilities that accompanied business failures in January almost doubled from a year earlier to ¥2.59 trillion.

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