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Japan’s merchandise trade surplus grew 107.9 percent in August from a year earlier to 644.1 billion yen, the sixth straight month of year-on-year growth, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by the Finance Ministry.

Strong demand for Japanese goods in Europe and throughout the rest of Asia supported the increase in the customs-cleared merchandise trade surplus — exports minus imports.

Exports rose 6.2 percent from the previous year to 4.07 trillion yen, up for the fifth consecutive month, while imports fell 2.7 percent to 3.42 trillion yen, marking the first decrease in two months.

Exports of electronic components rose 23.6 percent from a year before, while automobile exports grew 5.8 percent.

Imports of crude oil fell 9.1 percent while imports of clothing dropped 12.8 percent. Imports of electronic components, however, increased 23.2 percent, while those of aircraft surged 50.6 percent.

The exchange rate averaged 118.45 yen to the dollar in August, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier.

The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.

The politically sensitive trade surplus with the U.S. declined 7.3 percent from a year earlier to 500.9 billion yen, marking a second consecutive month of decline.

Exports to the U.S. fell 5.2 percent to 1.09 trillion yen, down for the third consecutive month, mainly due to falling exports of optical equipment and automobiles.

Exports of automobiles — Japan’s main export to the U.S. — dropped 5.3 percent on a year-on-year basis, marking a first decline in eight months, according to the ministry.

The ministry official said, however, that it is difficult to predict any trend of automobile exports based on the figure for a single month.

Imports from the U.S. fell 3.4 percent to 584.6 billion yen, marking a 15th straight month of decline.

Although aircraft imports rose, those of information technology-related products and telecom equipment dropped.

Japan’s trade surplus with the rest of Asia surged 335.8 percent to 382 billion yen, marking a sixth straight month of growth.

Led by exports of electronic components and steel, exports to Asia rose 17.3 percent to 1.85 trillion yen and marked a sixth straight month of growth.

Imports edged down 1.4 percent to 1.47 trillion yen — the first decline in two months.

Exports of electronic components to Asia surged 31.8 percent, while steel exports jumped 36.8 percent. Imports of clothing and crude oil declined.

Japan’s trade surplus with the European Union soared 20.4 percent to 152.8 billion yen, marking a first increase in two months.

Exports increased 4.8 percent to 590.1 billion yen, up for a third consecutive month, while imports grew 0.3 percent to 437.3 billion yen, up for the second straight month.

Exports of IT-related items and automobiles contributed heavily toward the growth in exports to the EU, according to the report.

“Reflecting the economic landscape in the world, exports increased in terms of volume and declined in terms of value,” the official said. “We will carefully monitor the trend hereafter.”

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