TOKYO, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Japan Monday reported a trade deficit of 932.14 billion yen ($9.5 billion) for September, largely due to a weaker yen, which drives up import costs.
September was the 15th straight month in which the country's trade balance ran into deficits, the Finance Ministry reported on its website.
September exports rose 11.5 percent from the same month of last year to 5.97 trillion yen ($60.9 billion) 60, thanks largely to higher automobile exports to the United States. However, they were more than offset by September imports, which soared 16.5 percent year-on-year to 6.9 trillion yen ($70.5 billion), blamed mostly on fuel import costs.
In the first half of the fiscal year ended September, Japan's trade deficit hit a record 4.98 trillion yen ($50 billion).
The economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, focused on pulling the country's export-dependent economy out 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 recent months, also has pushed up Japan's import costs, mostly to finance energy imports.
The government, despite the growing trade deficit, is expected to continue with its aggressive policies, analysts have said.