• Bloomberg


Corporate bankruptcies fell in 2014 to the lowest level since the final year of the asset bubble, as a government request for banks to alter loan conditions for smaller firms helped companies stay afloat.

Business failures slid 10.4 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 9,731 cases, the fewest since 1990, Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. said in Tokyo on Tuesday. There were no bankruptcies among listed firms last year for the first time in 24 years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reflationary policies have weakened the yen more than 24 percent against the dollar over the past two years, helping the earnings of exporters. At the same time, this has driven up import costs, hurting domestically focused companies and smaller businesses, which employ about 70 percent of the nation’s workforce.

“The benefits of ‘Abenomics’ haven’t sufficiently spread to smaller firms yet,” Shinya Matsunaga, a senior manager at Tokyo Shoko Research, said before the data was released. “It’s difficult to say that corporate bankruptcies are falling as the economy is improving. Rather, government support for smaller firms and public works spending are having results.”

Abenomics is the term given to Abe’s fiscal policies.

There were 282 company failures in 2014 in which the weak yen as cited as a contributor, more than double the 139 cases in 2013.

Bankruptcies have kept falling even after the expiry in 2013 of a moratorium on loan repayments for some smaller firms. The government has called on banks to keep accepting loan rescheduling requests.

About 10 percent of small and medium-size companies have rescheduled loans, according to Matsunaga.

“Despite falling corporate bankruptcies, conditions for small to medium-size companies probably remain severe,” he added.

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