Japan's trade gap shrinks to nine-month low

Shipping barge with containers in japan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Japan has been forced to import a large amount of fossil fuels after the Fukushima disaster

Japan's trade deficit narrowed in February to 800bn yen ($7.9bn) - the lowest level in nine months.

Exports increased by 9.8% and imports showed a sharp slowdown, with a 9% increase in February.

In January the trade gap surged to a record high after imports increased 25%.

Imports had been increasing ahead of a planned tax increase planned for April, as Japanese stocked up on foreign goods.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, which had led to a temporary slowdown in foreign buying, also contributed to the large January figure.

Many analysts believe the imports surge will slow as the planned tax increase goes into effect.

Japan has a run a trade deficit for the past 20 months - a record stretch.

That has been partially due to increasing imports of fossil fuels, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster left the country bereft of its nuclear power base.

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