Japan’s debt rating was lowered by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited “weak” prospects for economic growth that will make it difficult for the government to rein in the world’s largest public debt burden.
Moody’s cut the grade one step to Aa3, with a stable outlook, it said in a statement today. Rebuilding costs from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, along with continuing efforts to contain the Fukushima nuclear crisis, may make it hard for officials to meet their borrowing target this year, it said.
The first Japan downgrade by Moody’s since 2002 reflects deteriorating credit quality across developed nations from Italy to the U.S., which lost its AAA status at Standard & Poor’s this month. While the move adds to the challenges of the next Japanese prime minister, scheduled to be picked next week, the impact on bond yields may be limited by what Moody’s described as domestic investors’ preference for government debt.
“I hope this serves as a warning to the soon-to-be new administration,” said Noriaki Matsuoka, an economist at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “It’s imperative to begin to raise the sales tax.”
Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that investors in Japanese government bonds continue to trust the administration. He plans to brief reporters at 11:30 a.m. in Tokyo on measures to combat gains in the yen, according to a government official.
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