July 8, 2020 / 8:30 AM / in a month

Japan's first-half bankruptcies rise for the first time in 11 years

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask crosses a street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the business district in Tokyo, Japan, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Bankruptcies among Japanese companies in the first half of the year rose for the first time in 11 years due partly to the coronavirus pandemic which has hit hotel and restaurant businesses, according to data compiled by a research firm.

Tokyo Shoko Research, which tracks Japanese bankruptcies, said there were 4,001 cases in the six months through June, up 0.2% from a year earlier. Among them, 240 firms went bankrupt due to the coronavirus pandemic, the research firm said.

“While the coronavirus is one of the reasons of the rise in bankruptcy, most of them are ascribed to increase of labor costs and October’s sales tax hike,” a spokesman at the research firm said.

Bankruptcies in industries including accommodation and food services came in at 1,295, up 3.8% year on year, as declines in inbound tourism hit the sectors, the firm said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had issued the state of emergency nationwide for more than a month until late May to stem the spread of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 21,000 people in the country and killed almost 1,000.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Michael Perry

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