June exports, aided by a declining yen, rose 7.4 percent from the same month of last year to 6.06 trillion yen, or $60.9 billion, the Ministry of Finance reported on its website. June imports rose 11.8 percent year-on-year to 6.24 trillion yen, or $62.7 billion, leaving a deficit of 180.8 billion yen, or $1.8 billion.
June exports to the United States, one of Japan's major markets, rose 14.6 percent to 1.13 trillion yen, while imports rose 18.8 percent to 589.17 billion yen.
Japan's June deficit pushed the total deficit for the first six months of this year to a record 4,843.8 billion yen, or $48.7 billion.
The economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, focused on pulling the country's export-dependent economy out its 15 years of chronic deflation, has helped bring down the value of the yen against the U.S. dollar, which helps exports. However, a weaker yen, which has been declining in the past six months, also has pushed up Japan's import costs, mostly to finance energy imports.
"I thought we would see exports grow a bit more, but the results may indicate that the global economy isn't on a clear recovery path just yet," Hideki Matsumura, senior economist at the Japan Research Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. He said the deficits are expected to turn around later next year.