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Global investors ditch Japan stocks but BOJ swoops in

BlackRock, State Street and peers cut investment stance on equities

The BOJ bought roughly 5.6 trillion yen worth of ETFs in fiscal 2018.

TOKYO -- Overseas investors sold off Japanese stocks by the largest margin in 31 years in the fiscal year ended Sunday, yet the Bank of Japan's asset purchases absorbed all the bleeding, exposing the central bank's outsize role in the market.

Market participants abroad unloaded about 5.63 trillion yen ($50 billion) worth of shares on a net basis, the Tokyo Stock Exchange reported Thursday, for a second straight year of net selling and the highest sell-off since 1987.

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