(AP) Japan's trade deficit was a smaller than expected 180.8 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in June, though the rise in exports failed to keep pace with a nearly 12 percent increase in imports from a year earlier.
The deficit reported by the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday was smaller than most forecasts but more than triple the 56.1 trillion yen deficit recorded in June 2012. That's largely due to higher costs for fuel imports since most of Japan's nuclear reactors have been shut down since the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
A weakening in the Japanese yen over the past nine months has helped export manufacturing, especially for machinery and autos, as shipments have climbed at double-digit rates from a year ago.
But Japan's trade with China has suffered due to tensions over conflicting claims to islands in the East China Sea. Exports to mainland China rose 4.8 percent in June to 1.08 trillion yen ($10.8 billion) while its imports from China surged 14.3 percent to 1.33 trillion yen ($13.4 billion), nearly doubling Japan's deficit.
The Ministry of Finance said that exports totaled 6.1 trillion yen ($60.9 billion) in June, up 7.4 percent year-on-year earlier, while imports rose to 6.24 trillion yen ($62.7 billion). Exports to the U.S. jumped nearly 15 percent to 1.13 trillion yen ($11.4 billion), while imports surged nearly 19 percent to 589.2 billion yen ($5.9 billion).