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Moody's affirms Japan at A1 on prospects for stabilizing debt

Moody's affirmed Japan's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer ratings at A1, with a stable outlook, citing expectations that the country's fiscal and debt metrics will stabilize in the coming years, giving the government an opportunity to boost its finances as pressure from an aging population starts to build.

The recently implemented consumption tax increase to 10% from 8% will help fund rising costs related to Japan's aging population, albeit by a small amount, Moody's said. Still, the rating agency said the tax hike "is an indication of the government's commitment to take measures that would contribute to stabilizing the debt burden ahead of more severe pressure in the 2030s."

Moody's expects Japan to maintain fiscal restraint in the next few years and its deficits to narrow from fiscal 2020, leading to general government debt remaining stable but elevated at above 200% of GDP over the next three to four years. The rating agency believes that the Japanese government has the capacity to finance its very large debt stock at extremely low costs.