Japan reports its trade deficit fell nearly 60 percent from a year earlier in November as a drop in imports outpaced a 3 percent decline in its exports.

The data reported Thursday show Japan's exports to Asia dropped 8.7 percent from the year before, with an 8 percent fall in exports to China. Exports to the U.S. rose 2 percent.

Overall, imports fell 10 percent thanks largely to a drop in costs for imports of crude oil and gas.

Japan's exports of machinery, one of its mainstays, fell in November, while shipments of vehicles rose.

Tepid demand overseas, especially in China, has been a persistent challenge as Japan, the world's No. 3 economy, struggles to keep its recovery on track.