Japan posts record account deficit in January

TOKYO - Japan posted a current account deficit of 1.58 trillion yen (US$15 billion) for January, the largest since records began in 1985, Japan´s Ministry of Finance data showed on Monday. 

The ministry said that the country suffered a current account deficit for the fourth straight month.

Exports rose 16.7 percent to 5.5 trillion yen (US$55 billion) in January, while imports jumped 30.3 percent to 7.8 trillion yen (US$78 billion). 

The nation´s economy grew by 0.7 percent in 2013, below the estimates of 1 percent.

Exports rose 9.5 percent to US$680.9 billion in 2013, while imports jumped 15 percent to US$793.2 billion. Japan`s trade deficit in 2012 was US$77 billion.

Japan`s trade deficit increased due to the rising cost of energy imports after the shutdown of nuclear power plants, according to analysts.

The trade deficit has been on the rise as costs for energy imports have surged with the weakening of the Japanese yen along with increased purchases of foreign oil and gas.

Japan`s nuclear reactors, that once supplied a third of the nation´s power, have been offline for safety and regulatory checks after the March 2011 earthquake and with the tsunami which devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant.

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