TOKYO -- The growing number of foreign visitors to Japan has lifted the country's first-half travel balance surplus to a record high, recent data shows.
According to preliminary balance of payments statistics released by Japan's Finance Ministry on Thursday, the country's current-account surplus stood at 11.5 trillion yen ($101.1 billion) for the April-September period, up 11.7% from a year earlier. The first-half surplus reached the highest level since fiscal 2007.
The surplus on the travel balance jumped 25.0% on the year to a record 842.9 billion yen. The surplus has consistently swelled as consumption by foreign visitors to Japan increases. The travel balance rose in the first half of the year for the sixth time in a row.
According to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization, foreign visitor numbers jumped 19.9% on the year to a record 14.66 million during the period.
The current-account surplus in September was up 21.8% from a year earlier to 2.27 trillion yen.
For the first half of the year, primary income -- dividends received from foreign companies and investment returns -- increased 12.4% on the year to 10.3 trillion yen.
The total balance on services, such as transportation, travel and finance, saw a deficit of 576.4 billion yen, marking the smallest first-half deficit. The receipt of royalties on intellectual property and other rights increased.
The trade balance -- export values minus import values -- fell 9.3% from a year earlier to a surplus of 2.68 trillion yen. Although both import and export values surpassed figures from a year earlier, the surplus shrank as imports rose more than exports.
Crude oil prices surged nearly 20% from the same period last year, boosting import values. Exports to Asia and the U.S. were strong. In terms of products, exports of cars and chips increased.