Japan slipped back into a trade deficit in July, as exports languished and imports of gas and generating equipment surged, the Ministry of Finance reported Wednesday.
The deficit was 517.4 billion yen ($6.5 billion) in July, according to provisional trade figures. That compares with a 69.7 billion yen surplus a year earlier and a modest surplus of 62 million yen in June of this year.
Exports fell 8 percent from a year earlier in July to 5.3 trillion yen ($66.9 billion), while imports rose 2 percent to 5.83 trillion yen ($73.6 billion), the ministry said.
Japan has managed to eke out small trade surpluses in some months over the last year, but reported a record annual trade deficit for the fiscal year that ended in March.
The strong Japanese yen has hurt exports, as have disruptions caused by last year's earthquake and tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan, which hampered production of autos and electronics.
Exports have also suffered from weaker European demand due to the debt crisis.
A look at the figures for July shows sharp drops in exports of consumer electronics, customarily a mainstay for Japan's economy.
Total exports to Western Europe plunged 28 percent in July from a year earlier, while exports to the rest of Asia fell 9 percent. Exports to North America rose 5 percent, and those to the Middle East rose 9 percent.
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(Jiji Press )