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The central government outstanding debt shrank for the first time on record in fiscal 2008 and stands at ¥846.50 trillion, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

The year-on-year drop of ¥2.74 trillion was achieved thanks to the redemption of a large volume of “zaito” bonds used to finance loans to state-backed financial institutions in the fiscal year that ended March 31, the ministry said. Debt data have been kept since 1997.

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