TOKYO, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Japan posted its first monthly trade deficit in five years in January and the largest deficit in 23 years under the influence of high oil prices.
A preliminary report released by Japan's Finance Ministry said the trade balance was a customs-cleared trade deficit of $2.95 billion, the biggest since the $3.46 billion logged in January 1983, compared to a surplus of $1.63 billion previous year, the Kyodo News reported Thursday.
Imports rose 27.0 percent to $45.29 billion, up for the 23rd straight month, while exports grew 13.5 percent to 42.34 billion, up for 26 months in a row.
Imports of crude oil jumped 67.2 percent, spurred by a 46.4 percent surge in crude oil prices to $56.2 per barrel for January on a customs-cleared basis.
Japan's import deficit with China was $4.7 billion, up 48.0 percent from a year earlier and marking an all-time high.
The trade surplus with the United States rose 22.3 percent to $4.84 billion, marking the 12th straight month of increase.