TOKYO -- It was announced on Friday that the balance of Japan's net external assets at the end of 2016 grew 2.9% from a year ago to 349 trillion yen ($3.13 trillion) -- the first increase in two years.
The Finance Ministry attributed the increased figure, which reflects assets held overseas by Japanese businesses, government entities and individuals minus such debts, to Japanese investors' accelerated business acquisition activity overseas and increased purchases of foreign bonds.
The latest figure, announced by Finance Minister Taro Aso at a Cabinet meeting, is second only to the 363 trillion yen for the end of 2014. It makes Japan the world's biggest creditor nation for the 26th consecutive year.
At the end of 2016, the balance of external assets totaled 997 trillion yen, up 5.0% from a year ago, reflecting more active overseas expansion by Japanese companies.
The stronger yen, however, has meant foreign currency-denominated assets decreased when measured in yen value. The yen at the end of 2016 had risen 2.3% against the dollar and 5.9% against the euro, compared to a year earlier.
The balance of external debts grew 6.2% to 648 trillion yen, driven by foreign direct investment into Japan and Japanese bonds purchases by foreign investors.