Japanís Fiscal Crisis Comes of Age, by Yuriko Koike [former chairwoman of Japan's Liberal Democrat Party]: "By virtually any measure, official Japanese debt is the highest in the world. The total outstanding volume of Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) is an almost unfathomable $9 trillion, only just below the $10.5 trillion in outstanding debt for the full 17-country eurozone, which has more than triple the population. So grim has Japanís fiscal position become that bond issuance has exceeded tax revenue since 2009. Taxes cover less than half of government spending. And last yearís earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster only made a grim fiscal picture worse by requiring huge new spending on reconstruction. Japan issued a record •55.8 trillion ($693.5 billion), or 12% of nominal GDP, in government bonds during the last fiscal year. Of course, Japanís fiscal problems have been mounting for decades. Annual tax revenue has fallen 30% since the countryís property bubble burst in 1989, owing to slow growth and deflation, with tax cuts implemented as stimulus measures during the 1990ís recession playing a subsidiary role. The only reason that Japan has been able to sustain its fiscal position is that 93% of its debt is domestically held (with the Bank of Japan now buying close to one-third of the JGBs issued each year). Indeed, in contrast to the foreign capital flight that has so damaged Europe, willing foreign buyers of JGBs are currently plentiful, pushing interest rates to their lowest levels ever."