TOKYO: Japan posted a record 15th consecutive monthly trade deficit in September, as data on Monday showed the country’s energy bill soaring, but exports to China rebounded after a territorial row last year hurt demand for Japanese goods.
While the yen’s sharp decline is generally seen as a plus for Japan’s export picture, the overall volume of shipments turned down last month as an uncertain US economic recovery held back growth.
Sky-high energy bills from imports of pricey fossil fuels—made more expensive by the weak currency—also weighed on the nation’s trade balance. Energy imports surged after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which once supplied a third of the nation’s power.
There is little public appetite to turn the reactors back on although Japan’s conservative government has said that a restart was all but certain once safety is assured.
“Japan will continue to rely on energy imports, and any boost to exports from the weaker yen won’t be enough to turn around the trade deficit,” said RBS Securities chief economist Junko Nishioka.
The dollar was at 98.12 yen in afternoon Tokyo forex trading, up from 97.72 yen in New York City on Friday afternoon, which helped the Nikkei 225 stock index to end 0.91 percent higher.
The finance ministry said on Monday that Japan recorded a deficit of 932.1 billion yen ($9.5 billion), 64.1-percent higher than a 568.2 billion yen deficit a year earlier.