Japan household assets top 2,000 tril. yen for 1st time amid pandemic

© Kyodo News

Japanese household assets rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier to a record 2,023 trillion yen ($17 trillion) at the end of December, topping the 2,000 trillion yen mark for the first time as the COVID-19 pandemic curbed spending, Bank of Japan data showed Thursday.

Cash and deposits accounted for over half of the total assets, up 3.3 percent to 1.092 trillion yen, the largest on record, reflecting consumers saving more than spending. Comparable data became available in 2005.

Higher stock prices boosted the value of assets held in equities by 15.5 percent to 212 trillion yen and those in investment trusts by 20.4 percent to 94 trillion yen.

In the October-December quarter, concerns spread about a surge in infections triggered by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Assets held by nonfinancial firms hit a record 1,279 trillion yen, up 5.9 percent, the BOJ data showed. Corporate earnings have been recovering from the initial pandemic fallout.

Corporate lending by financial firms was up 0.2 percent at 356 trillion yen, a sign of easing funding needs.

The BOJ's current policy has kept borrowing costs low, providing funding support in particular for companies hit by the pandemic. As part of its monetary easing, the central bank continues to buy assets including Japanese government bonds and exchange-traded funds.

The BOJ's holdings of Japanese government bonds fell 2.9 percent to 530 trillion yen. But it still owned 43.4 percent of the outstanding state debt.

Overseas investors held 175 trillion yen worth of the bonds, up 7.4 percent.