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FACTBOX-Investments held by Japanese in their 60s

(Reuters) - Japanese held a total of 1,537 trillion yen (around $13 trillion) in household assets at the end of March, roughly the size of the U.S. economy.

Often characterized as conservative, passive investors, Japanese kept half of their financial assets in bank accounts as of the end of last year.

People aged 60 and over hold an average of roughly 12 million yen ($100,000) in deposits, or around 57 percent of their total financial assets, according to 2006 data from the Central Council for Financial Services Information, a public entity.

The following is an overview of asset holdings among older Japanese.

INVESTMENT TRUSTS

People over 60 own an average of around 1.2 million yen in investment trusts, or mutual funds, double that of individuals in their 50s.

Such holdings make up around 5.8 percent of the total financial assets of those in their 60s, and 6.4 percent for those in their 70s and older, compared with 4.5 percent among total households.

To cater to older customers, financial institutions have been offering low-risk investment trusts that offer higher rates than regular deposits, keeping in mind that retirees are conscious about protecting their principal.

This in part has helped to boost the value of publicly offered trusts, which totaled 79 trillion yen at the end of July, up more than 40 percent since 2005, according to the Japan Investment Trusts Association.

STOCKS

Japanese individuals in their 60s on average hold around 2 million yen in stocks, or about 9.5 percent of their financial assets. Overall, stocks holdings account for about 12.2 percent of total household assets.

Much of these holdings consists of company shares offered by employers that are not actively traded, and many retirees shy away from investing in shares due to a low threshold for risk. Others say that equity markets are difficult to understand.

BONDS

Japanese in their 60s each have an average of 580,000 yen locked away in bonds. Such investments account for around 2.8 percent of assets, the same percentage among overall households.

The Japanese government in the past four years has begun to issue debt customized for retail investors, although this has met lukewarm demand.

Although government debt is considered a safe investments, few older investors are interested, given low yields.

NEW RETIREES

Japan’s “baby boomer” generation refers to people born in 1947-1949, a three-year period that saw a total of 8 million births.

They number around 7 million today, accounting for about 5.5 percent of the nation’s population of 127 million. Due to their size, they warrant recognition as a generation of their own.

This year the cohort starts to turn 60, the standard retirement age in Japan, and they will be eligible for government pensions when they turn 65. Lump-sum retirement payouts from employers of those born in the three-year period are estimated to total around 50 trillion yen ($430 billion).

Among these baby boomers, 5 percent own financial assets worth more than 100 million yen, while 13 percent own 30 million to 100 million yen. Around 32 percent hold assets worth 25 million to 30 million yen, but the bulk, or 45 percent, belong to an asset class of 10 million to 25 million yen.

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