Japan’s current account surplus dropped to a record low 3,036.6 billion yen ($38.7 billion) for the six months through June, heavily affected by growing energy imports amid fears of electricity supply shortages, the government said Wednesday.
The balance of international payments, the widest gauge of trade for a country covering goods and services trade as well as overseas investments, fell 45.0 percent from a year earlier, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report. The surplus was the smallest on a first-half basis since comparable data became available in 1985.
In June alone, the balance stood at a 433.3 billion surplus, down 19.6 percent and the 16th straight month of deterioration, with the ministry underscoring the need to closely watch commodity prices, the world economic outlook and the yen’s strength in the currency market.
For the first six months of the year, the deficit in goods trade expanded to a record high 2,495.7 billion yen from 495.7 billion yen for the same period a year before.
Imports grew 9.2 percent to 34,044.5 billion yen on higher energy costs as the country has been consuming more liquefied natural gas for thermal power generation to cover the loss of nuclear energy due to safety concerns following the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Exports gained 2.8 percent to 31,548.8 billion yen, adding to signs of recovery from the sharp falls in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami although remaining subject to the sharp rise of the yen against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies, which makes Japanese products relatively expensive abroad.