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Global funds turned net sellers of Japanese government bonds last year as exceptionally low volatility reduced trading opportunities and as they poured money into supersafe treasury bills.

Overseas investors offloaded a net ¥2.79 trillion ($26.5 billion) of JGBs, the first drop since 2013, according to the latest balance-of-payments data. They still bought a total of more than ¥3 trillion of other types of Japanese debt — including bonds issued by government agencies, local governments and other entities — and a record amount of treasury-discount bills.

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