Japan posts record annual trade deficit as cost of energy imports rise

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Tokyo, Japan (4E) – Japan posted a record annual trade deficit in 2013 as energy imports and a weak yen raised the import costs of the world’s second-largest economy.

The shortfall climbed to 11.5tn yen ($112bn) last year, surging 65 percent from the previous year. Imports climbed 25 percent in December from the previous year and exports increased 15 percent, resulting to a monthly deficit of 1.3tn yen.

The nation has seen rising energy imports following the shutdown of all of its nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. However, Japan is paying more for those imports now after several aggressive policy moves that led to the sharp weakening of the yen.

The Japanese currency dropped more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar from January to December last year.

The lack of strength in the country’s exports may also be caused by Japanese firms sending their business abroad and also their declining competitiveness, according to some board members of the Bank of Japan from the minutes of its December policy meeting released Monday.

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