Japan August trade deficit soars 25 per cent to $12.2b

PHOTO: Japan August trade deficit soars 25 per cent to $12.2b

TOKYO - Japan's trade deficit ballooned by a quarter to US$9.8 billion (S$12.2 billion) in August, official data showed Thursday, underscoring how a weaker yen has sent the country's energy import bill soaring.

The monthly deficit of 960.3 billion yen (S$12.2 billion) was well up from a shortfall of 768.4 billion yen a year earlier, marking the worst-ever August deficit and extending a string of shortfalls to 14 months - tying a previous record set more three decades ago.

The data showed that a drop in the yen since late last year has helped Japan's exports, with the value of shipments rising 14.7 per cent, helped by strong demand for vehicles.

But the country's imports jumped 16.0 per cent, with energy costs soaring after the Fukushima atomic crisis forced Tokyo to switch off Japan's nuclear reactors.