Japan’s trade balance swung back into the black in June amid growing signs of a recovery in exports hit hard by the catastrophic March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan posted a surplus of $883.7 million in its trade with the rest of the world in June, according to preliminary figures released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday.
It was the first trade surplus in three months, although the June surplus was still down 89.5 percent from a surplus of $8.38 billion registered in the same month last year.
The March 11 twin natural disasters directly affected many auto, electronics and other parts makers’ plants, causing disruptions to supply chains. They also resulted in the shutdown of many nuclear power plants, including the Fukushima No.1 plant at the center of the ongoing nuclear crisis.
As a result, many factories in a wide range of industries, even in the unaffected areas, have been forced to stop or curtail operations due to parts and electricity shortages, while electric power companies have been forced to sharply increase imports of alternative fuels to atomic power generation, such as oil and gas.
Japan, now the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China, relies heavily on exports for growth.
Japan’s exports to the United States fell for four months in a row in June on a year-on-year basis, declining 6.1 percent to $10.74 billion, although the pace of decline slowed significantly from 23.3 percent in April and 14.6 percent in May.
Japan’s imports from the U.S. dropped for the first time in three months in June on a year-on-year basis, declining 4.7 percent to $6.40 billion. Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed for three months in succession in June on a year-on-year basis, shrinking 8.1 percent to $4.34 billion.
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