Japan’s trade deficit in the past fiscal year ending in March stood at 4.41 trillion yen (about 54.19 billion U.S. dollars), marking the worst ever reading for the country, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.
A preliminary trade report released by the ministry showed the country posted a trade deficit of 82.6 billion yen in March alone, as it continued to import oil and gas to fight a power shortfall.
The record trade deficit was attributed to factors including the March 11 disasters, the massive flooding in Thailand and the appreciation of the yen in the past year.
The devastating tsunami in northeastern Japan last year not only caused disruptions in the supply chain of auto parts but also triggered a nuclear crisis that led to suspension of reactors. Currently, 53 of a total of 54 reactors in the nation are offline.
The suspension forced the resource-poor nation which had enjoyed decades of trade surplus to make up the power difference by increasing energy imports.
According to Thursday’s report, for the recording year, Japan’s imports of mineral fuels used for thermal power generation soared 52.2 percent from the year before to hit a record high of 5.40 trillion yen. Meanwhile, imports of crude oil surged 21.9 percent.
By item, exports of electronic components contracted 14.7 percent and shipments of cars fell 5.4 percent. The two products were among the major contributors to the country’s trade surplus.
Though Japan recorded its first trade surplus in five months in February as exports to the United States grew strong, the overall trend of a slowing exports and widening imports remain unchanged, analysts said.