The government’s outstanding debt at the end of June totaled 502.3687 trillion yen, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier and topping the 500 trillion yen mark for the first time, the Finance Ministry reported Monday.

The latest debt figure exceeds Japan’s estimated gross domestic product for fiscal 2000 — 498 trillion yen — and serves as another reminder of the nation’s serious fiscal condition.

The sharp increase came as the government, hoping to avoid a steep rise in long-term interest rates, boosted the issue of bonds with medium-term maturities of between two and five years, instead of those with long-term maturities of 10 years or longer.

The amount of outstanding government bonds came to 348.576 trillion yen, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier.

Of that amount, 248.9829 trillion yen consisted of government bonds with maturities of 10 years or longer, up 2.3 percent, while 56.0675 trillion yen consisted of two- to six-year bonds, up 45.5 percent.

The balance of financing bills was 49.8959 trillion yen, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

The government held outstanding borrowings worth 103.8968 trillion yen, up 7.3 percent.

The steep rise in state debt is the result of the large amount of government bonds issued in recent years to finance a series of stimulus packages aimed to pull the nation out of the worst postwar economic slump.

The government’s debt topped 200 trillion yen for the first time at the end of fiscal 1988, 300 trillion yen in fiscal 1995 and 400 trillion yen in fiscal 1998. It took only two years and three months to top the 500 trillion yen mark.

The ministry expects the nation’s debt to reach 544.8419 trillion yen at the end of March 2001. Possible new government bond placements in the planned fiscal 2000 extra budget are expected to increase the debt.

The ministry announced the same day that the balance of repayment guarantees provided by the government for fundraising by public corporations totaled 53.1988 trillion yen, 2.1 percent higher than at the end of fiscal 1999 on March 31.

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