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WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japan replaced China at the end of December as the largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, recapturing the top slot for the first time in 16 months, the U.S. Treasury Department reported.

The amount of Treasury securities held by Japan came to $768.8 billion as of the end of the year, up $11.5 billion from a month earlier, while China’s holdings of Treasury debt stood at $755.4 billion, down $34.2 billion, according to the department’s monthly survey on international capital data.

Japan regained the top spot after being second behind China since September 2008.

China is likely to have reduced its U.S. debt holdings in December in reaction to Washington’s apparent efforts to correct its trade imbalance with Beijing.

The U.S. has levied antidumping duties in certain trade fields since last fall.

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