TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan posted a goods trade deficit for the second straight month in August as the cost of energy imports surged, government data showed Wednesday.
The trade deficit came to 444.6 billion yen ($4 billion), nearly doubling from a revised 231.9 billion yen deficit the previous month, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry.
Imports grew 15.4 percent from a year earlier to 7.14 trillion yen, outpacing a 6.6 percent rise in exports to 6.69 trillion yen that came on the back of an increase in China-bound equipment used to manufacture screens for tech devices.
Crude oil imports surged 59.6 percent to 897.5 billion yen despite volume being largely unchanged amid climbing global market prices.
By region, Japan logged a 181.0 billion yen trade deficit with its largest trading partner China. Despite exports marking a record high for the month of August, it was the fifth straight month of red ink with rising imports of mobile phones and computers.
The surplus with the United States, which under President Donald Trump is seeking more favorable trade terms with Japan, shrank by 14.5 percent for the second straight monthly fall to 455.8 billion yen amid a decline in exports of automobiles, a key industrial product for Japan.
Steel exports also fell in value for the third straight month, likely affected by Trump's imposition of a new 25 percent tariff earlier this year.
Japan posted a trade deficit of 87.4 billion yen with the European Union, the second consecutive month in the red as aircraft imports from Germany grew.
Against the whole of Asia, Japan had a trade surplus of 536.5 billion yen, the seventh straight month of black ink.
The figures were compiled on a customs-cleared basis.