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Value of Japan Imports Reaches a 40-Year High in November

Imports rose by 43.8% compared with the same period a year ago, beating economists’ forecasts of 40% and totalling $72.9 billion

An LNG tanker in Japan
Analysts warn of rocky road ahead as Tokyo seeks alternatives, with rising prices and increased renewable and nuclear energy likely scenarios. Photo: Reuters.


The value of Japan’s imports reached the highest level in at least four decades in November, according to data released on Thursday.

The data reflected high commodity and fuel prices around the world, the country’s trade ministry said.

Imports rose by 43.8% compared with the same period a year ago, beating economists’ forecasts of 40% and totalling 8.32 trillion yen ($72.9 billion).

The increase represented an acceleration on the 26.7% growth recorded in October and, according to Refinitiv data, reached a level not seen in four decades.

The rise was due mainly to an increase in commodity prices, particularly fuels such as petrol, coal and liquid natural gas, imports of which rose 144% year on year, according to data released by the country’s finance ministry on Wednesday.

The value of raw materials imports, such as wood and iron ore, rose 49.9%.

Last week, data showed Japan’s economy shrank faster than expected in the third quarter as the country was hit by a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Japan’s manufacturing activity expanded for an 11th straight month in December, but at a slightly slower pace than the previous month as weaker output and new order growth softened.

Activity in the services sector also grew at a slower pace. The au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to a seasonally adjusted 54.2 from 54.5 in the previous month.

“Manufacturers and services companies signalled softer rates of output and new order growth compared with November,” said Annabel Fiddes, economics associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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