The number of corporate bankruptcies in April hit a 28-year low for the month, a private credit research firm said Thursday.

The figure fell 4.4 percent from a year before to 650, the lowest level for the month of April since 1990 when the country was in the last stage of its bubble economy era, Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. said.

April marked the first decline in two months in the number of business failures. The data covered bankruptcies involving liabilities of ¥10 million or more.

Total liabilities left by failed companies dropped 8.3 percent to ¥95.4 billion, including some ¥6 billion left by women-only share-house operator Smart Days Inc.

The number of bankruptcies decreased in seven sectors, including construction, transportation and retailing, while the figure increased in three sectors that included manufacturing.

By region, the number of bankruptcies declined in Hokkaido, Hokuriku, Kanto and Chubu. The remaining five saw rises.

Of the 47 prefectures, increases were reported by Miyagi, Fukushima, Hiroshima and 17 others.

The number of bankruptcies related to labor shortages grew 36.3 percent to 30.

“Swelling manpower costs are a big challenge for low-profit companies,” a Tokyo Shoko official said, suggesting a possible future increase in bankruptcies among small companies struggling with higher labor costs.

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