Japan has logged a tremendous trade deficit in the last fiscal year in spite of attempts to depreciate its currency and thus foster exports. The country has suffered from rising costs for imported gas and oil.
Customs figures released Thursday showed that Japan's trade deficit rose to a record $83.4 billion (64.6 billion euros) in the last April to March fiscal year.
Exports dropped by 2.1 percent in the period under revision, while imports rose by 3.4 percent year-on-year. The deficit of 8.17 trillion yen was up 84 percent from the shortfall in the previous fiscal year.
The Asian country had tried to improve its trade balance by taking measures to depreciate the national currency, but the effect failed to fully offset weak demand for Japan's exports, with shipments to China hurt by a flare-up in tensions over a territorial dispute.
Exports to Japan's most important trading partner, China, fell by than 9.1 percent, while shipments to the rest of Asia dropped by 42 percent. The volume of goods delivered to the 27-member European Union decreased by 14 percent, with imports from the area rising by 4.5 percent in fiscal 2012.
The weaker yen meant higher costs for rising imports of natural gas priced in dollar terms, and also higher costs for oil. Japan needed to import more natural resources to help compensate for the loss of nuclear power generation capacity.
Most nuclear power plants had remained closed after the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima station in northeastern Japan.
hg/kms (dpa, AP)