The Cabinet Office's Economic and Social Research Institute on Jan. 17 released the finalized figures on the country's economy's stocks (the net value of accumulated assets at a balance date) and flows (net transactions, including income and expenditure, during an accounting period) that were recorded in national accounts in 2012.

The preliminary value of transactions covering the October-December period last year has already been released in the form of gross domestic product figures, but the total value of assets in the economy is only disclosed once a year — and almost a year later — because it takes time to confirm the figures. Therefore, the recorded value of assets in the economy as of the end of 2012 is the latest available. As the adjusted totals now go back to 1994, I'd like to review the figures over the past 19 years and highlight a few salient points:

First, Japan's net assets (or national wealth) — calculated by deducting national debt from assets — fell from ¥3,398.9 trillion at the end of 1994 to ¥3,000.3 trillion at the end of 2012 — a loss of ¥398.6 trillion over the past 19 years. Given that the nation's nominal GDP was ¥472.6 trillion in 2012, the data shows that national wealth equivalent to as much as 84.3 percent of the year's GDP was lost over the same period.