Sales at overseas subsidiaries operated by Japanese firms fell 0.8 percent in yen terms in the January-March period, according to the results of a government survey released Monday.

It was the first year-on-year drop in five quarters, the government said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said sales at 2,000 overseas subsidiaries that responded to the survey totaled 11.23 trillion yen.

By region, sales in North America fell 5.4 percent from a year earlier, while those in China expanded 14.1 percent.

Sales in four Southeast Asian nations — Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia — rose 9.1 percent.

The growth in sales at Japanese firms’ subsidiaries in China marked a 16th consecutive quarter of increase, according to the survey.

Sales in Europe also logged an increase of 4.3 percent. , rising for the 11th quarter in a row, METI said.

The China boost was primarily attributed to gains in sales by electrical machinery makers, while increases in the transport machinery sector were attributed to the growth registered in the four Southeast Asian nations.

Looking ahead, more subsidiaries expect sales boosts in the April-September period, with the diffusion index up to 21.4 from the 18.7 recorded in the January-June period.

The index is calculated by subtracting the number of subsidiaries that expect their sales to decline from the number that expect them to rise.

The survey saw 3,151 overseas units polled in May. Of these, 2,000, or 63.5 percent, gave valid responses.

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