Japan's trade deficit in 2012 swelled to a record 6.93 trillion yen ($78.3 billion), as fuel imports surged and a bitter territorial dispute with China hammered its exports.
The provisional figures reported by the Finance Ministry on Thursday showed the trade deficit narrowed, however, in December, to 641.5 billion yen ($7.25 billion) from the 954.8 billion yen shortfall in November. That's despite a 5.8 percent drop in exports for the month.
December was the sixth straight month of deficits. Exports have suffered from plunging demand in crisis-stricken Europe and troubles with China after a flare-up over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea prompted anti-Japanese protests last fall.
The annual trade deficit was a 170 percent increase from the deficit of 2.56 trillion yen recorded in 2011.
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