The outstanding balance of the nation’s net assets abroad rose for the second straight year, totaling a record 179.26 trillion yen at the end of 2001, up 34.7 percent from the previous year, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

Japan maintained the world’s top position in net overseas assets for the 11th consecutive year, the ministry said.

Net overseas assets are the excess of assets held abroad by the government and private entities over overseas liabilities.

Gross overseas assets held by the Japanese government and the private sector totaled 379.78 trillion yen, up 11.3 percent, primarily due to an increase in the holdings of foreign medium- and long-term bonds.

A weak yen pushed up the value of Japan’s foreign currency-denominated assets.

Gross overseas liabilities fell 3.7 percent to 200.52 trillion yen because of a decline in the value of Japanese stocks held by foreign investors due to sluggish stock prices.

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