TOKYO — Japan’s government debt hit a record-high 1,087.81 trillion yen ($9.9 trillion) at the end of March, the Finance Ministry said Thursday, reflecting rising social security costs and underscoring the country’s dismal fiscal health.
The figure rose 16.25 trillion yen from a year earlier. Debt per capita stood at 8.60 million yen based on the country’s estimated population of 126.53 million as of April 1.
The government has ramped up the issuance of longer-term bonds to cover growing social security spending including on medical costs and pensions amid a rapid demographic shift toward the elderly.
Ultralow borrowing costs due to the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing have made it easier to take on debt, but are also putting the government further from restoring its fiscal standing, the worst among advanced economies.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has effectively given up on his goal of achieving a primary balance surplus by fiscal 2020 due to expansions in child-care support and school subsidies. The government is considering delaying the goal to fiscal 2025 when it unveils its new fiscal restoration plan this summer.
The total debt consisted of 959.14 trillion yen in bonds, 54.02 trillion yen in loans from financial institutions, and 74.65 trillion yen in financing bills or short-term government notes of up to one year, according to the ministry.