The nation’s customs-cleared trade surplus for the month of August came to 742.1 billion yen, rising 113.6 percent from the same period last year, according to statistics released Sept. 17 by the Finance Ministry.
It was the fifth straight month in which the figure grew on a year-on-year basis. And as they did five months ago, ministry officials said they still do not believe the Japanese economic structure remains one in which the surplus will rise to huge levels in the long term.
“While we do not rule out the possibility of the trade surplus expanding in the short term, structural changes dictate that the figure will not continue to increase significantly,” one official said. He added that effects of the rise in the consumption tax on April 1 and the subsequent drop in internal demand continued to affect the figures somewhat, but said there was no knowing when that effect would disappear.
Japan intends to explain to its G-7 partners at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers Sept. 20 that the nation’s external surpluses would not reach alarmingly high levels due to the increase in production overseas and the growth in imports of manufactured goods. Exports for the month totaled 3.95 trillion yen, logging a rise of 14.4 percent compared to August last year and the 25th consecutive month of increase.
Double-digit growth in exports has been seen since January, according to the ministry. Imports, meanwhile, grew for 40 months straight, but only managed to register a scant 3.4 percent to 3.21 trillion yen — the lowest year-on-year growth since the 0.3 percent recorded in July 1994.
Marked export increases were seen for such items as automobiles, which logged 41.3 percent growth in value terms and a 33.4 percent rise in volume terms. Exports of semiconductors and other electronic parts and scientific optical devices also expanded, increasing 11.9 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively.