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Small business sags in Japan

Japan's small businesses went downhill for the past two years in a row, with the rate of business failures hovering near the critical level, says Teikoku Data Bank Ltd., a private credit research firm. The company attributes the failures to prolonged economic stagnation and says they centered on textilemakers, the food industry, and retail shops.

A total of 17,397 businesses collapsed in fiscal 1981, which ended in March, following a record 18,212 cases of bankruptcies recorded the previous year, the data bank said in a business survey report.

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In fiscal 1980, the worst year for Japan's small businesses, the average monthly failure rate topped 1,517 cases, Teikoku said.