The government’s liabilities exceeded its assets by as much as 831.71 trillion yen on an unconsolidated basis at the end of fiscal 2000, 23.57 trillion yen more than in the previous year, according to the national balance sheet released Friday by the Finance Ministry.
Although assets grew to 733.6 trillion yen in 2000, up 31.66 trillion yen from a year before, the increase in liabilities exceeded the growth of assets. Fiscal 2000 ended March 2001.
Assets include such items as loans, securities and fixed assets, while liabilities cover such factors as postal savings and government bonds held by the private sector.
A ministry official attributed the increased liabilities to the issuance of government bonds. The accumulated government bonds outstanding grew by 34.3 trillion yen in 2000 from the previous year.
In compiling the balance sheet, the ministry calculates the size of future pension obligations using three different methods.
Under these, liabilities amount to 921.42 trillion yen, 1,058.72 trillion yen, and 1,565.32 trillion yen. Accordingly, liabilities in excess of assets add to 187.81 trillion yen, 325.11 trillion yen and 831.71 trillion yen.
The most pessimistic figure is based on the estimate by treating all pension benefits promised by the government, worth 799.4 trillion yen, as liabilities.
The smallest figure assumes only a part of the public pension system’s 155.5 trillion yen in reserves as liabilities. The middle figure assumes as liabilities the reserves plus the portion of the benefits to be paid by the national government, which came to 292.8 trillion yen.
Meanwhile, the ministry released for the first time the government’s balance sheet on a consolidated basis, covering 81 special corporations that have strong ties with the government.
In the two previous years, the ministry compiled the balance sheet on an unconsolidated basis that covers the general account and special accounts.
On a consolidated basis, the government’s balance sheet comes off worse because the liabilities of many special corporations exceed their assets.
Under the three different calculation methods on pension obligations, liabilities exceeded assets by 198.17 trillion yen, 335.48 trillion yen and 869.48 trillion yen on a consolidated basis.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.