• Kyodo News


The outstanding balance of financial assets held by the nation’s households fell 5.7 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier to ¥1.434 quadrillion, the lowest level in nearly four years as investors incurred losses amid the global financial turmoil, the Bank of Japan said Tuesday.

The balance, shown in the central bank’s quarterly survey, was the lowest since March 2005, when it stood at some ¥1.427 quadrillion. The rate of decline was the fastest since the BOJ began to keep statistics in 1979.

The result marked the fifth straight quarterly fall and added to the view that the Japanese, widely seen as among the most risk-averse in the world, have increasingly fled from stock and other securities markets and shifted their money to safer bank accounts.

The balance of shares and other equities plunged 40.2 percent to ¥87.08 trillion in the reporting quarter. That of securities other than stocks fell 21.1 percent to ¥91.7 trillion, while the balance of insurance and pension reserves declined 0.2 percent to ¥400.93 trillion.

Individual assets held in cash and deposits meanwhile rose 0.9 percent to ¥791.56 trillion, underlining that households favor having their money in hand or at banks. Cash and deposits continued to claim the largest share of household assets, at 55.2 percent, compared with 51.6 percent at the end of 2007.

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