Japan’s exports to the United States rose for the eighth consecutive month in June on a year-on-year basis, jumping 15.1 percent to $12.52 billion, according to preliminary figures released by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday.
Japan’s imports from the U.S., however, fell 3.5 percent in June from the same month last year to $6.27 billion. It was the first decline in six months on a year-on-year basis.
As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. expanded for the fifth month in a row in June on a year-on-year basis, widening 42.6 percent to $6.25 billion.
The robust growth in U.S.-bound shipments in June was led by autos and auto parts, which soared 21.8 percent and 57.7 percent, respectively, in terms of value.
In June last year, Japan’s exports to the U.S. slumped 6.1 percent on a year-on-year basis, as the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, caused serious disruptions to supply chains for Japanese automakers and other manufacturers.
Japan is now the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China and is heavily dependent on exports for growth. The U.S. is Japan’s second-largest trading partner after China.
In June, Japan’s exports to the rest of the world decreased for the first time in four months on a year-on-year basis, declining 2.3 percent to $71.44 billion, while its overall imports also fell for the first time in 30 months, dropping 2.2 percent to $70.66 billion.
As a result, Japan posted a surplus of $781.01 million in its trade with the rest of the world in June. It was the first trade surplus in four months.
The Finance Ministry’s figures also showed that Japan incurred a deficit of $36.91 billion in its trade with the rest of the world between January and June, up 202.7 percent from a year earlier and the biggest amount on record on a half-year basis.
In the first half of this year, Japan’s overall exports totaled $412.61 billion, up 1.5 percent from a year earlier, while its overall imports amounted to $449.51 billion, up 7.4 percent from a year earlier.
The import growth in the January-June period was primarily fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which soared 49.2 percent in terms of value. Japan’s imports of LNG as an alternative fuel to atomic power have continued to grow since last year’s nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was triggered by the March 11 twin natural disasters.
Resource-poor Japan imports almost all of its oil and natural gas. The country imports natural gas in the form of LNG and is by far the world’s largest importer of the cleaner-burning fuel.
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