Exports rose in May at the fastest rate in four months thanks to increased shipments of cars, car parts and semiconductor equipment, a sign that global demand is gaining strength.

Exports rose 8.1 percent in May from the same period a year ago. In April, exports grew an annual 7.8 percent.

Exports are likely to continue to grow thanks to increased demand for manufacturing equipment, cars and car parts, but Japan's trade surplus with the United States makes it a potential target for U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist policies.