The trade surplus grew 35.5 percent in May from a year earlier to 934.2 billion yen, as overseas consumers, particularly those in Asia, snatched up Japanese cars, scientific equipment and digital gadgets, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

This marked the 11th consecutive monthly expansion in the merchandise trade surplus, underlining strong external demand.

The growth was largely due to a 9.8 percent surge in exports, which far outpaced the 4.9 percent growth in imports.

Exports of luxury cruise ships doubled, boosting overall exports. Overall imports were meanwhile hampered by high oil prices, which caused crude oil imports to drop 19.4 percent on a year-on-year basis to 16.2 million kiloliters, or 3.3 million barrels a day.

Japan’s exports to other parts of Asia jumped 17.5 percent from the previous year to 2.3 trillion yen, growing for the 27th straight month. Imports from the region also grew, up 8.6 percent on a year-on-year basis to 1.7 trillion yen. As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the region continued to grow to the tune of 594 billion yen, up 53.7 percent from the previous year.

But trade with the U.S. shrank for the second straight month, as exports fell 7 percent and imports dropped 8.7 percent on a year-on-year basis. The trade surplus with the U.S. fell 4.9 percent to 486.3 billion yen for the third straight month of decline.

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