Yet another Japanese small operator has gone under citing stiff competition from the many larger, edge of town shopping malls as the root of the problem.

Established in 1950, the well known Marusho department store in Wakayama, Wakayama Prefecture on Monday filed for voluntary termination of its operations, leaving liabilities totalling around 20.4bn yen ($176m).

The department store was closed on the day of the filing with the courts ordering a freeze on all assets for liquidation.

Local traders fear that the closure of the department store will provide a serious blow to the local economy and may see other retailers following suit.