Wal-Mart has started a restructuring programme at its Seiyu subsidiary in Japan that will see the world's largest retailer close around 23 stores in the country.

The US retail giant revealed the plans as part of its company-wide quarterly statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wal-Mart said it would close "approximately" 23 outlets and "certain excess properties". The retailer added: "This restructuring involves incurring costs associated with lease termination obligations, asset impairment charges and employee separation benefits."

In the nine months to the end of October, Wal-Mart booked after-tax operating losses as discontinued operations of $22m.

Wal-Mart first invested in Seiyu in 2002 but Japan's fifth-biggest retailer by sales has struggled in a competitive market. Seiyu became a wholly-owned Wal-Mart subsidiary in March 2008.