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Japan exports surge, imports shrink

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Exports from Japan continued to rebound in January while imports shrank, as the yen’s sharp fall and the nation’s powerful manufacturing industry helped the country deal with a weak domestic economy.

Exports for the month grew 17% from a year ago, according to data released two weeks ago by the Ministry of Finance. Imports decreased 9% as the price of crude oil imports was dramatically smaller.

The trade balance came to a deficit of Yen1.18 trillion, marking the 31st straight month of shortfalls – but that was 58% less than the trade deficit the country logged in January 2014. Japan tends to report larger trade deficits in January, when exporters typically are away from the market.

Although the headline figure was positive, there is no guarantee exports will continue to rise like this. “The global economy faces the prospect of lower than usual growth, notwithstanding a boost from the recent drop in oil prices,” said Naoyuki Shinohara, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in Tokyo Wednesday.

Japanese exporters have been helped by a sharply weaker yen and strong demand for electronics components from rapidly growing smartphone makers in China. Demand has also been strong from the U.S.A, whose economy has been growing at a faster-than-expected pace in recent quarters.