It was the 10th straight month of deficit as the Japanese government fights to pull the economy out of years of deflation and boost exports through a series of fiscal and monetary measures that have helped bring down the value of the yen. The sliding yen has been a big relief for Japan's exports as it makes them cheaper but it also makes imports costlier.
Preliminary figures showed the April deficit compared with the deficit of 518.4 billion yen ($5.95 billion) in the same month of last year, Japan's Finance Ministry reported on its web site.
Exports this April rose 3.8 percent year-on-year to 5.77 trillion yen, but imports soared 9.4 percent to 6.66 trillion yen mainly due to higher energy cost such as liquefied natural gas, whose demand has increased for generating electricity as most of Japan's nuclear power plant have been shut down following the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The trade deficit last month was 362.4 billion yen ($3.69 billion) and 779.5 billion yen ($7.9 billion) in February. Deficit for all of fiscal 2012 ended March was 8.17 trillion yen ($83.5 billion).
"Exports may recover further but because import costs are rising quite a bit, trade deficits will likely continue," said Junko Nishioka, chief economist at RBS Securities Japan, told The Wall Street Journal. She also was quoted as saying higher April exports also indicated the worst period for them has ended.