Japan recorded its largest ever current account deficit in January, at Y437.3 billion, as exporters continue to struggle and raising fuel prices affect businesses across the country.
It is the first negative figure since January 2009, when the previous record deficit of Y132.7 billion was established at the peak of the international financial crisis.
In January 2011, before the March natural disasters, the economy registered a trade surplus of Y547 billion.
Japan’s export-led economy is currently being affected by a strong national currency and slow demand from international markets. Analysts say however that the January data was strongly influenced by New Year holidays in many important Asian markets and that the current account is expected to return to positive values from February.
Japan’s economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the October-December period, less than the 0.6 percent value previously expected.
“It is still the first contraction in two quarters. But overall the economy is in a moderate recovery trend,” said Hiroshi Ogushi, parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet office. “There is no change to our view that the upward trend is continuing,” he said, according to the Nikkei business daily.