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Japanese household assets rose 1.5% in 2012, first increase in six years

Kyodo

The value of assets held by Japanese households at the end of 2012 rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier to ¥2.586 quadrillion, the first increase in six years, the government said Friday in its national accounts report.

A major reason behind the increase was that stock prices rose on the back of the yen’s depreciation in the second half of 2012, pushing up the value of households’ stock holdings, a Cabinet Office official said.

The value of nonfinancial assets slid 1.3 percent to ¥1.033 quadrillion while that of financial assets increased 3.4 percent to ¥1.557 quadrillion, the government said.

The overall net worth of households — their assets minus debts — increased 1.9 percent to ¥2.233 quadrillion, it said.

Japan’s national wealth — the total value of assets held by the public and private sectors minus the debts of both — expanded for the first time in five years in 2012, to ¥3.000 quadrillion from ¥2.999 quadrillion the previous year, the report showed.

The country’s external assets totaled ¥718.5 trillion, up 15.1 percent, due in part to increases in value of foreign stock and bond holdings, while Japan’s external liabilities rose 17.6 percent to ¥422.2 trillion, the office said.

The yen has plunged against the dollar and other major currencies since November 2012, when the House of Representatives was dissolved for the general election on Dec. 16 that brought Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party back to power.

With speculation intensifying that Abe would pursue aggressive monetary easing to beat chronic deflation, the yen dropped versus the dollar by 4.3 percent on year on an average basis in November 2012 and by 7.4 percent the following month, the Finance Ministry said.

A falling yen usually bolsters exports, a major driver of economic growth, by making products of Japanese firms cheaper in other nations and by lifting the value of their overseas revenue in yen terms, helping stock prices rise.