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Strained by a dependence on fossil fuel imports and a depreciated yen, Japan has logged its lowest annual current account surplus since it began tracking data in 1985.
Japan's annual current account surplus has sunk to its lowest level in nearly three decades, a result of rising fuel costs and a weaker yen, the country's finance ministry announced on Monday.
The value of goods, services and investments flowing out of Japan in fiscal year 2013 exceeded those coming in by 789.9 billion yen ($7.75 billion) - a slide of 81.3 percent, or 4.2 trillion yen ($41.2 billion) - compared to the previous year.
"Exports increased, including those bound for the United States and China. But the trade deficit expanded due to the increase of imports such as crude oil and liquefied natural gas," the ministry said.
Slower exports could endanger the recovery of the world's third-largest economy.
Exports were up 12.2 percent to 69.8 trillion yen but imports rose by 19.6 percent to 80.67 trillion yen for the year.
Japan once enjoyed a substantial trade surplus as a major exporter of cars and other industrial products, but the country has recently been strained by its dependence on fossil fuel imports aftertemporarily shuttering its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster there three years ago.
The cost of importing goods has also risen since the country began depreciating its currency in late 2012 in order to boost overseas shipments. For instance, the actual volume of crude oil imported to Japan only rose by 1.5 percent over one year ago, but the value of those imports went up by 18.4 percent.
In yen-denominated terms, the price of crude oil has shot up by 16.6 percent.
cjc/ng (AFP, Reuters, dpa)