The number of corporate bankruptcies fell 20.2 percent in May from a year earlier to 834, slipping below 900 in the month for the first time in 23 years, a credit research agency said.
The plunge was attributed to monetary support by government and private institutions for cash-strapped small and medium-size companies, according to a survey by Tokyo Shoko Research covering business failures with debts of ¥10 million or more.
Total liabilities left by bankrupt companies in May declined 0.4 percent to ¥172.64 billion as the failures were mostly small in scale with debts of less than ¥100 million.
In the retail sector, the number of corporate bankruptcies declined for the first time in two months, despite the consumption tax hike in April, but the figure increased among retailers of clothing for women and children as well as books and stationery.
Construction sector failures fell 32.6 percent from a year earlier to 169, the 27th monthly decline thanks to increased public works projects.
In the manufacturing sector, the number of bankruptcies fell for the 10th straight month, to 131.