Japan logs $8.1b in trade deficit in February as import costs rise on weaker yen

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan logged a trade deficit of US$8.1 billion (S$10.2 billion) last month, reversing a year-earlier surplus as a weaker yen pushed import costs up, government data showed on Thursday.

The 777.5 billion-yen deficit reversed a surplus of 25.9 billion yen in February last year, finance ministry data showed. Total exports during the period slipped 2.9 per cent to 5.28 trillion yen, while imports jumped 11.9 per cent to 6.06 trillion yen.

The yen's recent weakening was expected to help hard-hit exporters, but the nation's trade picture remains cloudy after Tokyo logged its worst-ever monthly trade deficit of 1.63 trillion yen in January.

Japan also posted a record annual trade deficit through 2012 as exports to debt-hit Europe plunged and a bitter diplomatic spat with its biggest trade partner China weighed on demand.