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Business

Japan falls back into trade deficit as yen gets stronger

Japan has reported a drastic drop in exports, with shipments down for all of the Asian nation's most important trading regions. The strong yen had remained a headache for Japanese exporters, the government said.

Fresh economic data for May showed Monday that Japan fell into its first trade deficit since January. The Asian nation logged a gap of 40.72 billion yen ($389 billion, 342 billion euros), compared with a trade surplus of 823 billion yen in April.

Japanese exports dropped for all major regions, the government said in a preliminary report. The country's shipments to its most important trade partner, China, dipped by 14.9 percent in May from a year earlier, contributing to an 11.3-percent drop in overall shipments.

The rising yen kept denting Japanese exports by making the country's products more expensive in overseas markets, and thus less competitive.

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Imports down, too

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had actively attempted to talk down the currency's strength, with ministers repeatedly suggesting that Tokyo could step into the market to weaken the yen in a bid to

safeguard the fragile economy

ahead of a July parliamentary election.

The value of Japan's imports in May dropped by 13.8 percent mainly due to falling oil prices and weak domestic consumption.

In general, Japan has imported more petroleum and liquefied natural gas for power generation since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. But falling global energy prices contributed to declines in May import numbers, the government pointed out.

hg/jd (AFP, dpa)

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