• Kyodo

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Japan remained the world’s largest creditor at the end of 2019, with the net balance of external assets held by its government, companies and individual investors hitting a record ¥364.53 trillion ($3.40 trillion), the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.

The figure, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier and the highest since comparable data became available in 1996, reflected increased direct investments abroad by Japanese firms and a rise in prices of foreign stocks held by domestic investors.

Japan was the world’s largest holder of overseas net assets for the 29th consecutive year, the ministry said.

A ministry official refrained from presenting an outlook for the possible impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the 2020 balance.

In the reporting year, Germany had the world’s second-largest net external assets, with ¥299.83 trillion at the end of 2019, followed by China with ¥231.77 trillion. The United States was the biggest net external debt holder with ¥1.199 quadrillion, according to the ministry.

Total Japanese external assets increased 7.8 percent to a record ¥1.098 quadrillion for the 11th straight year of gains.

Japanese direct investment in the United States stood at a record ¥58.20 trillion, and that in China was also the largest on record at ¥14.22 trillion.

Japanese overseas liabilities rose 8.4 percent to a record ¥733.21 trillion amid an increase in the volume and value of Japanese securities held by foreign investors.