Japanese real estate firms have been particularly hard hit
Company bankruptcies in Japan jumped 24.7% in December from a year earlier, as the financial crisis pummelled the world's second-largest economy.
Data from research firm Tokyo Shoko showed that 1,362 companies filed for bankruptcy last month.
A total of 33 publicly traded companies went out of business in 2008, the most in the post-war period, it said.
For 2008 as a whole, corporate bankruptcies rose 11% - the most in eight years.
Japanese companies, like their competitors in many parts of the world, have struggled as the recession has hit sales and made it harder to raise funds.
Property firms, such as apartment builder Dia Kensetsu Co, have been particularly hard hit by the downturn. They account for about half of all the failures of listed companies.
Japan's economy slipped into its first recession in seven years in the third quarter of last year.
Exports have fallen sharply as demand for Japanese products, such as cars, has fallen sharply.