Japan logs 4th straight monthly trade deficit

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan logged a trade deficit for the fourth straight month in November, with imports hitting a record high for any month against a backdrop of rising oil prices, government data showed Thursday.

The customs-cleared trade deficit came to ¥954.8 billion, against a surplus of ¥325.9 billion a year before, the Finance Ministry said.

The November deficit was larger than the median forecast of ¥680 billion in a Jiji Press poll of 19 research institutes.

In the month, Japan saw its imports soar 43.8% from a year earlier to ¥8,321.8 billion, surpassing the previous record of ¥8,047 billion, set in January 2014.

Imports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas, in particular, both shot up about 2.3-fold.

Meanwhile, exports hit a record high for November, but failed to offset the import growth. Exports expanded 20.5% to ¥7,367.1 billion, led by shipments of steel products, semiconductor manufacturing devices and electronic components.

In trade with the United States, Japan’s surplus shrank 23.9% to ¥443.4 billion, with exports up 10.0% and imports up 43.0%.

Automobile exports to the United States dropped 11.5%, reflecting production cuts due to lingering constraints in parts supply, while imports from the country of pharmaceutical products, including COVID-19 vaccines, surged 2.1-fold.

In trade with mainland China, Japan posted a deficit of ¥402.1 billion, compared with ¥329.4 billion in deficit a year before. Exports rose 16.0%, and imports were up 17.2%, led by those of clothes and nonferrous metals.