Japan posted a record 15th straight monthly trade deficit in September as costs for food and other necessities outstripped growth in exports, underscoring the challenge Prime Minister Abe Shinzo faces in sustaining momentum in the world's third-largest economy.

The monthly deficit came to 932.2 billion yen ($9.5 billion), narrowing slightly from August's Y960.3 billion and roughy in line with the Y936.9 billion projection in a Dow Jones Newswires poll. A year ago, Japan posted a shortfall of Y568.2 billion.

Exports last month rose 11.5 percent from a year earlier, less than a revised gain of 14.6 percent in August and below a 15.6 percent median forecast of 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, imports grew 16.5 percent, according to the data released by the Ministry of Finance on Monday.

Reviving Japan's battered exports has been a main objective of the country's prime minister, who has initiated aggressive monetary easing that helped correct the yen's excessive strength.