Saturday, January 20, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 20, 2001

Japan bankruptcies in 2000 left record $204 billion debt

Associated Press

TOKYO — Japanese corporate bankruptcies rose 23.4 percent in 2000 from the previous year and left behind a record level of debt, a private credit research agency said yesterday.

A total of 19,071 companies declared bankruptcy last year, leaving behind record debt of 23.987 trillion yen ($204 billion), up 77 percent from 1999, said the agency Teikoku Databank.

The previous debt record was set in 1998, when liabilities of failed companies reached about $184 billion.

The agency said debt was higher because of several high-profile failures, including retailer Sogo Co. and

Kyoei Life Insurance, Japan’s 11th-largest life insurer. Kyoei Life, which collapsed last October under debts totaling 4.6 trillion yen ($39 billion), was the country’s biggest postwar bankruptcy yet.

A growing number of small- and medium-sized businesses also failed after the government’s policy of encouraging loans to smaller companies ended. Many businesses have had difficulty borrowing money from banks, which have reined in lending amid worries that Japan’s recovery may be losing steam, the agency said.

Japan is struggling to emerge from its most severe economic slowdown in decades. The economy is no longer shrinking and the government forecasts expect 1.5 percent growth this fiscal year. But many economists worry that slower growth in the United States could weigh on Japan’s economy and lead to a rise in bankruptcies.

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