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Japan logs record trade deficit in January

TOKYO: Japan logged a record trade deficit in January, data showed Monday, as fuel imports rose to meet electricity generation needs with most nuclear reactors offline since last year's nuclear disaster.

The January deficit came in at 1,475 billion yen ($18.5 billion), the highest since records began in 1979, the finance ministry said.

The latest figure was triple the year-before shortfall of 479.4 billion yen and far exceeded the previous record deficit of 967.9 billion yen registered in January 2009 amid the financial crisis.

Japan's January exports tumbled 9.3 percent to 4,510 billion yen on lower shipments of semiconductors and other electronic devices.

Japanese exporters are struggling to cope with the strong yen which reduces their repatriated income and makes their products more expensive abroad.

Imports surged 9.8 percent to 5,985 billion yen with purchases of liquefied natural gas shooting up 74.3 percent, crude oil up 12.7 percent and coal up 26.5 percent.

Japan incurred an annual trade deficit for the first time in more than three decades in 2011.

- AFP/cc

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