Japan remains world's biggest creditor nation

TOKYO Thu May 24, 2007 7:51pm EDT

TOKYO May 25 (Reuters) - Japan's net external assets rose to a record high in 2006, government data showed on Friday, keeping it the world's largest creditor nation for the 16th straight year.

Japan's overseas assets rose 10.3 percent from a year earlier to a record 558.106 trillion yen ($4.598 trillion) last year as domestic investors increased foreign asset holdings, with their value inflated by a weaker yen, Ministry of Finance data showed.

Rises in overseas equity markets also boosted the value of Japanese investors' stock holdings, contributing to the increase in overall foreign assets, the data showed.

Japanese liabilities abroad stood at 343.024 trillion yen, up 5.4 percent from the year before, as foreigners increased their holdings of Japanese assets.

As a result, Japan's net external assets rose 19.0 percent to 215.081 trillion yen, growing for the first time in two years and exceeding a record high marked in 2004.

While some countries like China and several Middle East nations do not release comparable data, Japan's net external assets far exceed those of Germany, which were the world's second largest at 87.873 trillion yen at the end of 2006.