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The number of companies that suspended or closed their business operations or dissolved in the period from January to August increased 23.9 percent from a year earlier to 35,816, Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. said Wednesday.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to cause disruption, the number of such companies appears on course to exceed 50,000 in 2020 for the first time on record since 2000 — surpassing the current record high of 46,724 set in 2018.

An increasing number of firms and business owners face rapidly worsening earnings and are losing interest in continuing their businesses due to the uncertain outlook, the credit research firm said.

In the first eight months of 2020, the services sector logged a total of 11,144 business suspensions, closures and corporate dissolutions, up 27.4 percent.

The construction industry came next with 6,327, up 27.9 percent, followed by the retail sector with 4,511, up 16.7 percent.

The financial products and commodity futures trading sector logged the steepest percentage rise in such cases.

Meanwhile, the number of bankruptcies edged down to 5,457, as companies were propped up by the government’s funding support measures.

A broader policy package is now needed, including measures to help companies change lines of business and transfer operations, Tokyo Shoko Research said.

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