May 13, 2020 / 7:00 AM / 14 days ago

Over 140 small Japan companies bankrupted by coronavirus: research firm

TOKYO (Reuters) - The outbreak of the coronavirus had pushed 141 Japanese companies to bankruptcy since February, with more cases expected toward the end of this month, Tokyo Shoko Research (TSR) said on Wednesday.

The companies affected were mostly smaller companies in the tourism and restaurant industries but the effect of the coronavirus is spreading wider than expected, hurting a range of businesses from construction firms and operators of music schools to funeral homes, the research firm said.

“Many of those which failed already had difficulties in raising funds due to labor shortages and an increase of the consumption tax last year,” it said in a statement.

“The coronavirus pandemic has added further pain to them.”

A total of 743 companies went bankrupt in April, of which 71 were virus-related, compared to 645 in April last year, TSR said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government last month declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis and rolled out a stimulus package equal to 20% of economic output, including cash grants to companies and individuals.

Such stimulus should be delivered swiftly as businesses are “almost getting out of breath” from shouldering payments for salaries, rents and utilities despite a sales decline, TSR said.

Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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