Japan’s monthly trade deficit has more than doubled to a new record after a weakened currency drove up the cost of fuel imports while exports slowed.
Japan’s trade gap rose by 71% to 2.79tn yen ($27.3bn; £16.4bn) in January from a deficit of 1.3tn yen in December.
This comes after imports rose by 25%, outweighing a 9.5% rise in exports.
Japan has posted large trade deficits for 19 straight months, raising concerns the government’s stimulus policy may be having a counter effect.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been looking to weaken the value of Japan’s currency to stimulate economic growth and end nearly two decades of deflation.
His measures – which have come to be known as “Abenomics” – include increasing the money supply in the country to drive down the value of the currency.
Theoretically, a weak yen should boost exports by making them cheaper for foreign buyers, and increase the profits of exporters when they repatriate overseas earnings.
The Japanese yen has lost nearly 20% of its value against the US dollar over the past year, but the weak currency has also made imports more expensive and affected the country’s trade balance.
The world’s third-largest economy has had to import most of its energy needs after it shut all of its nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake in 2011.