TOKYO — Wendy's, the No. 3 hamburger chain in the U.S. announced plans to withdraw from the Japanese market and close its stores there, after a 29-year presence in an Asian market long dominated by McDonald's Corp., according to The Associated Press.

Managing Wendy’s, America's No.3 hamburger chain, in Japan, Zensho Co. Ltd. announced on Dec. 11 it will end its contract with Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. and close the country's 71 Wendy's burger shops by year’s end. Wendy's first shop in Japan opened in 1980. The burger chain was managed by retailer Daiei Inc. until 2002 when Zensho assumed the business. In the fiscal year to March 2009, Wendy's in Japan generated 6.2 billion yen ($70 million) in sales.

In explaining Wendy’s departure from Japan, a Zensho spokesman said, "We will focus our resources on beef bowl restaurants and others. The closure is part of our business plans."

McDonald’s is estimated to have nearly a 65% market share in that country. Opening its first burger shop in Tokyo in 1971, McDonald’s now operates 3,720 shops in Japan.