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Japanese Theme Park Goes Bankrupt

February 26, 2003

TOKYO (AP) _ In the largest bankruptcy of a Japanese amusement park, a complex modeled on a medieval Dutch town, filed for court protection Wednesday with 229 billion yen ($1.94 billion) in debt.

Outfitted with dozens of restaurants and scattered with Dutch employees dressed in traditional garb, Huis Ten Bosch attracted 4.25 million visitors at its peak in 1996, according to private credit research agency Teikoku Databank.

But Japan’s ongoing economic decline and stiff competition from the likes of Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan squeezed business, leaving the company unable to shoulder its debt burden. Attendance had fallen to 3.54 million in 2001.

The company filed for bankruptcy in Nagasaki District Court Wednesday, company spokesman Shinichi Yoshino said.

Developers broke ground on the park in 1988, at the height of Japan’s ``bubble economy″ of inflated real estate and stock prices. The complex included 12 museums, 70 shops and a hotel, as well as a vacation home and condominiums.

Teikoku said the bankruptcy was the largest on record for a Japanese theme park. It was also the second largest for a public-private joint venture after the failure of Seagaia, a resort complex that collapsed in 2001 with liabilities of 276.2 billion yen ($2.34 billion).

Huis Ten Bosch had no Dutch investment. Its shareholders include Nagasaki-based developer Takushima Corp. as well as other local interests including Nagasaki Bus and Kyushu Electric Power.

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