The Japanese government has warned the country's trade figures for September show an alarming drop in exports to key economic partners. Shipments abroad have been the lowest in over 30 years.
Trade activities in the world's third-largest economy took another severe blow in September, the Japanese government conceded on Monday. Official data showed the country accumulated a monthly deficit of 558.6 billion yen ($7 billion, 5.36 billion euros) on a 10.3 percent drop in exports.
They are the worst September trade figures since 1979 when comparable data became available. Tokyo said demand for everything from chemicals and cars to medical products and computers fell away.
Japan has had a hard time dealing with the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, but the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone and slowing growth in China have also contributed to the current dilemma.
Spat over territory
Exports to the European Union plunged 21.1 percent year-on-year, marking the 12th consecutive monthly drop to the region.
Shipments to Japan's most important trading partner, China, dipped by 14.1 percent in September as a result of growth woes in Beijing. But tumbling exports there had also been a result of a bitter territorial dispute over an East China Sea archipelago. "The deteriorating relationship with China could prove to be a major low to the Japanese economy," BNP Paribas Chief Economist Ryutaro Kono said in a statement for Dow Jones Newswires.
"Data from China for September show that it's heading for a gradual recovery," economist Daiju Aoki from UBS commented. "I believe this will [soon] offset the fallout from the political problem."
Overall, Japan's trade deficit stood at 3.22 trillion yen in the first half of the fiscal year to March 2013, the biggest half-year shortfall in over three decades.
hg/jr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)