TOKYO (AP) _ Sanyo Securities Co., a second-tier brokerage house, filed for court protection from its creditors Monday.

Sanyo said the Tokyo District Court has issued an order to protect the assets of the brokerage, which has become the first in Japan to fail since the end of World War II.

As of the end of September, Sanyo said in a statement that it has current assets of 297.6 billion yen ($2.48 billion) and 373.6 billion yen ($3.11 billion) in outstanding debts.

At a meeting of board of directors Monday, Sanyo concluded it is impossible to implement its business improvement plan as the stock market has been in a slump for a long time.

It said its major banks, including the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Daiwa Bank Ltd. and Nippon Credit Bank Ltd. and Nomura Securities Co. have promised to extend ``as much help as possible'' to Sanyo.

At a news conference, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka stressed that the problems arose from its decision to extend aid to affiliates saddled with bad debt.

``There were special factors at work here. It wasn't a result of the company's regular business operations,'' Mitsuzuka said.

He said he knows of no other brokerages facing similar problems at this point, and he noted that three leading banks as well as some top brokerage houses will contribute to a 2.0 billion yen ($16.7 million) fund aimed at ensuring that customers are able to retrieve assets from the company if they so desire.

Yasuo Matsushita, governor of the Bank of Japan, said in a statement, ``We have been informed that customer property, including cash from customers, will be protected and that they will be returned swiftly.''

Sanyo posted a net loss of 2.46 billion yen ($20.5 million) in the fiscal year which ended March 31.

Sanyo, established in 1943, is now capitalized at 39.7 billion yen ($331 million). It employs 2,715 people.

Japan's financial institutions were buffeted by huge non-performing loans in the wake of the collapse of the nation's speculative ``bubble economy'' of late 1980s. Some are still trying hard to write off bad debts they held.