Japan has booked its first trade deficit in many months as higher energy prices and slower growth in exports have taken their toll on the world's third-largest economy. But the figures do not mark a trend reversal.
Japan posted a trade deficit of 1.09 trillion yen ($9.6 billion, 9.04 billion euros) in January, the government reported Monday. The figure marked the first deficit in five months.
The Asian nation's overall imports jumped by 8.5 percent last months, with purchases of petroleum up 35.6 percent and imports of liquefied natural gas growing by 6.7 percent, the Finance Ministry said.
Japan has had to import more petroleum and LNG for power generation since its nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station in March 2011. Only two of the country's 43 workable reactors are currently online.
But Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Chief Economist Yuichi Kodama argued the export weakness seen in January would not last.
"There's no change to the view that Japan's economy is driven by external demand, while domestic demand is remaining weak.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to kick-start growth for more than four years with a policy of spending, central bank monetary easing and structural reform, but the outcome has been mostly disappointing, analysts believe.
hg/jd (AFP, dpa)