TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's current account surplus tumbled 15.8 percent from a year earlier in May to 1.59 trillion yen ($14.65 billion) as exports to China declined amid U.S.-China trade tensions, government data showed Monday.
The surplus in the current account, one of the widest gauges of international trade, fell for the third consecutive month, but marked the 59th straight month of black ink, according to a preliminary report released by the Finance Ministry.
Among key components, the world's third-largest economy posted a goods trade deficit of 650.9 billion yen amid weak exports to China and South Korea, although the country's goods trade surplus with the United States expanded in the reporting month, a ministry official said.
Exports fell 6.3 percent from a year before to 5.92 trillion yen due to sluggish demand for semiconductor manufacturing devices in China and South Korea and auto parts in China, the official said.
Imports fell 0.9 percent to 6.57 trillion yen, reflecting a decline in shipments to Japan of liquefied natural gas.
Japan's long-running surplus in the current account has been helped by solid income from foreign investments. Primary income, which reflects returns on overseas investments, registered a surplus of 2.26 trillion yen, down 5.9 percent.
Service trade, which included cargo shipping and passenger transportation, logged a surplus of 137.2 billion yen.
The travel surplus stood at 230.5 billion yen, the highest on record for the reporting month, supported by the number of foreign travelers to Japan, which rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier to 2.77 million.
The surplus grew 5.3 percent, even though around 1.44 million Japanese went abroad in the same month, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier, as part of this year's special 10-day Golden Week holiday from late April to early May to mark Japan's imperial succession.