Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 1.475 trillion yen in January, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday - remaining in the red for the fourth consecutive month and suggesting that the country continues to struggle in its recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami last March.
The headline figure was even worse than forecasts for a shortfall of 1.456 trillion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 205.6 billion yen in December.
Exports plunged an annual 9.3 percent to 4.510 trillion yen - but that actually beat forecasts for a contraction of 9.4 percent after plummeting 8.0 percent a month earlier. It also marked the fourth straight monthly fall following three straight months of gain.
Exports to All of Asia fell 13.7 percent on year to 2.356 trillion yen, while exports to China alone plummeted an annual 20.1 percent to 741.264 billion yen.
Exports to the United States were up 0.6 percent on year to 757.452 billion yen, while exports to the European Union declined an annual 7.7 percent to 531.340 billion yen.
Imports jumped 9.8 percent on year to 5.985 trillion yen, climbing for the 25th consecutive month. That compares to forecasts for an increase of 9.6 percent after rising 8.1 percent in the previous month.
Imports from Asia climbed 9.6 percent on year to 2.713 trillion yen, while imports from China alone jumped an annual 7.5 percent to 1.329 trillion yen.
Imports from the United States added 5.7 percent on year to 492.110 billion yen, while imports from the European Union were up 3.5 percent to 530.651 billion yen.
Among the individual components, imports of fossil fuels were up - along with imports of motor vehicles, thanks to the lingering flood damage to production facilities in Thailand.
The adjusted trade balance showed a deficit of 612.8 billion yen, beating expectations for a shortfall of 847.8 billion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 569.7 billion yen in December.
by RTT Staff Writer
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