TOKYO, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Japan's government debt rose to a record-high at the end of December owing to increased bond issuance and borrowing related to rising social security costs, Finance Ministry data showed Friday.
According to the ministry, the debt at the end of December stood at 1,085.75 trillion yen (9.94 trillion U.S. dollars), as the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) ultra-loose monetary policy has seen the government's reliance on the issuance of longer-term government bonds increase.
The government debt comprises 956.25 trillion yen (8.75 trillion U.S. dollars) in government bonds, 53.71 trillion yen (491.98 billion U.S. dollars) in borrowing from financial institutions, and 75.79 trillion yen (694.23 billion U.S. dollars) in financing bills or short-term government notes, the ministry's data shows.
The nation's demographic crisis, involving a rapidly aging and simultaneously shrinking society, has seen social welfare costs and planned expenditure balloon.
Child care costs and plans for free education for some children, to support families and low-income earners, while helping to bolster a shrinking workforce, has seen the government abandon its target of returning the primary balance to a surplus by 2020, underscoring its struggles to consolidate and restore the nation's fiscal health.
Broken down on a per-capita basis, the finance ministry's data showed that based on a population of around 126.59 million people at the beginning of this year, the per-person debt stood at 8.58 million yen (78,592 U.S. dollars).
Japan has a public debt level globally never seen before at more than double the size of its economy.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in a recent evaluation, Japan, with its debt the highest in the industrialized world, poses "a serious risk."
"In contrast to household and corporate debt, government debt, which has surpassed 220 percent of GDP, the highest ever recorded in the OECD area, poses a serious risk," the OECD's summary stated.