June 30 (UPI) -- Though Japanese crude oil imports fell more than 15 percent year-over-year, it's taken on more oil from OPEC member Kuwait, state media reported Friday.
Pointing to data from the Japanese government, the official Kuwait News Agency, known also as KUNA, said Kuwait was No. 3 behind Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, respectively, when it came to crude oil exports to Japan.
KUNA reported that Saudi exports to Japan declined 0.3 percent year-over-year and Emirati exports declined 28.2 percent from last year.
Kuwait shipped on average 223,000 barrels of oil per day to Japan in May, the last full month for which data were published. That's up 10 percent from last year and the first time for an increase in four months.
Kuwait supplied about 8 percent of total Japanese crude oil imports.
"Shipments from the Middle East accounted for 83.3 percent of the total, down 4.3 percentage points from the year before," KUNA reported.
The Japanese government reported at the start of the month that the economy grew 1 percent in terms of gross domestic product during the first quarter, the sixth quarter in a row for an expansion. Nevertheless, the growth was slow and down from the 2.2 percent rate indicated in a preliminary forecast from May.
In the monthly market report for June, economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said the latest economic figures from Japan "are pointing to a higher level of growth in 2017 compared with the previous year."
The Bank of Japan is continuing with monetary stimulus plans, though core inflation and consumption rates remain low.
Kuwait is a party to the OPEC-led effort to balance the market through production declines. Output in May was 2.7 million barrels per day, unchanged since January and about 6 percent lower than the average for fourth quarter 2016.