World

Japan April trade gap narrows as low oil cuts imports, and exports to US, Southeast Asia climb

FILE - In this April 22, 2015 file photo, people walk in front of a container ship docked at a container terminal in Tokyo.  Japan's trade balance reverted to a deficit in April, 2015,  but narrowed sharply from the previous year as the plunge in oil prices cut fuel import costs.  The 53.4 billion yen ($439.6 million) deficit in April for the world's third-biggest economy compared with a 227.4 billion yen surplus in March, the first in several years. But it was down nearly 94 percent from April 2014, when the deficit was 825.5 billion yen, the Finance Ministry reported Monday, May 25. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

FILE - In this April 22, 2015 file photo, people walk in front of a container ship docked at a container terminal in Tokyo. Japan's trade balance reverted to a deficit in April, 2015, but narrowed sharply from the previous year as the plunge in oil prices cut fuel import costs. The 53.4 billion yen ($439.6 million) deficit in April for the world's third-biggest economy compared with a 227.4 billion yen surplus in March, the first in several years. But it was down nearly 94 percent from April 2014, when the deficit was 825.5 billion yen, the Finance Ministry reported Monday, May 25. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)  (The Associated Press)

Japan reports its trade deficit narrowed sharply in April from the previous year as the plunge in oil prices cut fuel import costs, while exports to the U.S. and the rest of Asia surged.

The Finance Ministry reported on Monday a 53.4 billion yen ($439.6 million) deficit in April, compared with an 825.5 billion yen deficit the year before. Exports rose 8 percent year-on-year to 6.55 trillion yen ($53.9 billion) while imports dropped 4.2 percent to 6.6 trillion yen ($54.3 billion).

Exports to the U.S., Japan's biggest market, jumped 21 percent from a year earlier to 1.36 trillion yen ($11.2 billion), while imports from the U.S. rose 24 percent, to 714.1 billion yen ($5.9 billion).

Vehicle exports surged 15 percent, while oil gas and other fuel imports dropped 29 percent.