Japan’s Trade Deficit Halves in January

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Finance Ministry’s headquarters building in Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan logged a customs-cleared trade deficit of ¥1,758.3 billion in January, which was 49.9% smaller than the year-before deficit due to growth in automobile exports and a plunge in fuel imports, preliminary government data showed Wednesday.

In January 2023, the country’s trade deficit reached a record ¥3,506.4 billion because of a surge in resources prices and the yen’s depreciation.

In January this year, Japan’s imports fell 9.6% year on year to ¥9,091 billion, with imports of coal, liquefied natural gas and crude oil shrinking 43.2%, 28.8% and 9.2%, respectively, according to the Finance Ministry data.

Exports grew 11.9% to ¥7,332.7 billion, the highest level for January since comparable data became available in 1979.

Automobile exports expanded 31.6% thanks to diminished impacts of semiconductor shortages. Vehicle shipments to Europe, the United States and China were brisk. Exports of chipmaking equipment also increased, by 27.5%.

Japan posted a surplus of ¥415 billion in trade with the United States.

With China, meanwhile, Japan ran a trade deficit of ¥959.5 billion.

Food exports to China dropped 22.2% due to the country’s blanket import ban on Japanese fishery products introduced following the start in August 2023 of the release of treated water containing tritium, a radioactive substance, into the ocean from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.