Japan registered its worst ever monthly trade deficit in January courtesy of a jump in energy import prices which were driven up by a tumbling yen.
Finance ministry data showed that the trade gap hit 1.6 trillion yen (£11 billion) in the month, well ahead of analysts’ expectations.
However, the currency depreciation did benefit Japanese exporters, which saw their first annual rise in sales in eight months. The new Tokyo government of Shinzo Abe has embarked on a radical policy of monetary and fiscal stimulus designed to pull Japan out of its two-decade-long stagnation.
The yen has fallen 16% against the United States dollar since November in response to the easing.
Abe’s administration has been accused of targeting a lower yen in order to boost growth through exports.