Japan's current account surplus fell 8.6 percent in March compared to a year earlier, mostly on higher energy costs, the country's Finance Ministry revealed Thursday. A stronger-than-desired yen also weighed on export growth by making Japanese goods more expensive.
The country's surplus stood in March at 1.59 trillion yen ($19.9 billion), larger than the 1.4 trillion yen economists had expected.
On the basis of figures released today, Japan's recovery appears to be on track. But recent data have not been uniformly positive, and the next few months are likely to be bumpy, said a report from David Rea, Japan economist from London-based Capital Economics.
The large increase in energy imports followed the March 2011 tsunami-earthquake, which caused the country to shut down its nuclear energy sector.
Last weekend, the last of the country's 54 nuclear reactors was shut down, leaving Japan facing a significant energy shortage this summer, said Rea's report.
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Total imports in the year to March shot up 14 percent, while exports fell 2.8 percent. But exports in March rose 7.8 percent from the previous year as the U.S. recovery and a weaker yen offset a slowdown in demand from the euro zone.
For the fiscal year ended March 31, Japan registered a budget surplus of 7.89 trillion yen, or 52.6 percent less than the previous fiscal year. This decline was the sharpest drop since comparable recording was started in fiscal 1985, according to AFP.