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Japan's Balance of Payments Statistics and International Investment Position for 2021

July 29, 2022
International Department
Bank of Japan


The current account surplus decreased slightly to 15.5 trillion yen in 2021 from 15.7 trillion yen in 2020. The decrease reflects the fact that although the surplus on primary income increased, that on goods decreased and the deficit on services increased.

Looking at the breakdown, the surplus on primary income widened, mainly due to a rise in the surplus on direct investment income. On the other hand, the surplus on goods narrowed, reflecting the fact that although exports increased owing to the recovery in overseas economies, imports rose even more due to such factors as the surge in raw material prices.

Looking at services by component, the surplus on travel declined further, reflecting the low number of inbound and outbound travelers throughout 2021 due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The deficit on other services increased slightly, mainly due to the rise in the deficit on telecommunications, computer, and information services.

From a somewhat longer-term perspective, Japan's services balance has consistently been in deficit. While the deficit followed a decreasing trend before the outbreak of COVID-19 owing to the increase in consumption by foreign travelers in Japan (i.e., travel receipts), it has been widening again since 2020, mainly due to the decline in the number of foreign travelers to Japan and the increase in digital-related payments such as for IT services and content distribution (see Appendix 1).

From a somewhat longer-term perspective, the surplus on portfolio investment income has been on the decline, as payments have followed an increasing trend while receipts have remained more or less unchanged (see Appendix 2).

Reflecting the surplus on the current account, the financial account registered net lending, which, however, decreased to 10.8 trillion yen in 2021 from 13.8 trillion yen in 2020. Looking at the breakdown, direct investment registered net lending, while portfolio investment registered net borrowing.

Looking at developments in direct investment in 2021 classified by type of investment, for direct investment assets, M&A type transactions continued to account for a significant share. Meanwhile, with respect to direct investment liabilities, the share of M&A type transactions increased significantly reflecting large-scale M&As (see Appendix 3).

Japan's net asset position marked a record high, rising to 411.2 trillion yen at year-end 2021 from 355.0 trillion yen at year-end 2020. This reflects an increase in the yen value of foreign currency-denominated assets due to the yen's depreciation. Among major economies, Japan at year-end 2021 continued to record the largest net asset position.

In relation to statistical standards, international discussions on many different issues have been taking place in preparation for the updating of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM) scheduled for 2025. One of the major issues being addressed in the ongoing discussions is the recording of crypto assets (see Appendixes 4 and 5).

List of Appendixes

Appendix 1.
Developments in Services
Appendix 2.
Developments in Portfolio Investment Income
Appendix 3.
Developments in Direct Investment by Type of Investment
Appendix 4.
Update of the IMF's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual
Appendix 5.
International Discussions on the Recording of Crypto Assets in the BOP Statistics


This report is an English translation of the Japanese original released on July 8, 2022.

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Balance of Payments Statistics Group, Balance of Payments Division, International Department

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