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Japan sees 51 coronavirus-related bankruptcies

Spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has pushed 51 Japanese companies into bankruptcy with a spike in new cases seen in April, Tokyo Shoko Research said on Friday, underscoring the toll the health crisis is taking on the world's third-largest economy.

The bankruptcies were mostly in the hotel and restaurant industries such as hot spring hotel operator Fujimi-so in Aichi, central Japan, though they were spreading to small retailers and food producers reliant on inbound tourism, the credit research firm said in a report.

"Firms in the catering and funeral industries are also facing bankruptcies," as people refrain from participating in events including funerals, the report said.

"The coronavirus is affecting companies across sectors. If the impact persists, bankruptcies could spread not just among small firms with weak business foundations, but medium-term companies," it said.

Since the outbreak, two firms went under in February, 23 in March and 26 so far in April, it said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for Tokyo and six other prefectures, after a jump in coronavirus cases in Tokyo sparked concern that Japan was headed for the sort of explosive outbreak seen in other countries.

The number of coronavirus cases in Japan rose to 5,548 on Thursday, with 108 deaths, NHK said. Tokyo accounted for 1,519 cases, heightening concerns about sluggish action.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Stephen Coates)