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Trade

Japan's annual trade deficit hits record high

Official figures from Japan have shown the Asian country is grappling with a huge trade deficit that has swollen to levels not seen before. The weaker yen alone could not stop the shortfall caused by energy imports.

Japan's 2013 trade deficit surged to a record 82 billion euros ($112 billion), its Finance Ministry announced Monday.

It indicated that the recent benefits of a cheaper yen were more than just diluted by soaring post Fukushima energy imports.

The shortfall of 11.47 trillion yen marked the biggest deficit since the nation started collecting comparable data back in 1979.

Old rules fading

Weaker yen help Japanse exporters - to a certain extent

Exports climbed by 9.5 percent in 2013. But while shipments abroad logged a first increase in three years, imports jumped to their highest ever level, rising by 15 percent and thus inflating Japan's deficit.

NLI Research Institute economist Taro Saito said Japan was unlikely to narrow its trade deficit considerably any time soon.

"It's getting difficult for Japan to boost exports, because companies have shifted a lot of their production to foreign countries," he said. "So, the equation of a cheaper yen equaling a rise in exports is not very true anymore."

hg/kms (AFP, dpa)

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