Japan trade deficit hits record $27.4B in January as exports trail surge in costlier imports

Japan's trade deficit surged to a monthly record of 2.8 trillion yen ($27.4 billion) in January as imports jumped 25 percent.

A weakening in the Japanese yen has failed to push exports up as much as hoped while imports of costlier oil and gas, food and other products have surged. Consumers and businesses are thought to be stepping up purchases ahead of an April 1 sales tax hike.

The Finance Ministry reported Thursday that exports rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier to 5.25 trillion yen ($51.5 billion) while imports were 8.04 trillion yen ($78.8 billion).

The previous record monthly deficit was 1.63 trillion yen, in January 2013.

Japan's deficit with China also surged, to a record 1.04 trillion yen ($10.2 billion).