• Kyodo

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The total value of general-account budget requests by government ministries and agencies for fiscal 2022 has hit a record of over ¥111 trillion ($1 trillion) as debt-servicing costs are expected to balloon amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Kyodo News tally found Tuesday.

The calculated figure for the year starting April topped ¥110 trillion for the first time and exceeded ¥100 trillion for the eighth year in a row. It was also pushed up by record-high social security spending on the nation’s rapidly graying population, and rising defense costs to meet security challenges posed by China.

Although much of the planned spending to combat the coronavirus has yet to be included, the total sum demanded is already larger than the ¥106.6 trillion initial budget for fiscal 2021 — which included ¥5 trillion reserved for responding to the pandemic.

After assessing the requests, the Finance Ministry will compile the initial draft budget in December before Diet deliberations.

The latest figure suggests that the initial budget for fiscal 2022 could hit an all-time high for the 10th straight year, fueling concern over the further deterioration of Japan’s fiscal health — already the worst among major economies and with debt twice the size of gross domestic product.

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