Energy imports, yen swell Japan trade deficit

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TOKYO — Japan’s trade deficit ballooned in July as the cost of imports surged because of a cheaper yen and energy needs.

The Finance Ministry reported Monday a trade deficit of 1.02 trillion yen ($10 billion) for July, almost double a year earlier.

Exports jumped 12 percent while imports surged nearly 20 percent.

The dollar has risen in recent months, a plus for exports. But that also makes imports more expensive when translated into yen.

All but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear plants have been turned off for safety checks after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster sent three reactors into meltdowns. That has meant Japan has imported much more oil and gas.

Japan, once known for giant trade surpluses, has posted trade deficits for 13 straight months.

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