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China passes US as top Japanese export buyer, topping 20%

Cars and cardboard drive gains, even as some companies warn on overreliance

A container ship sits at a port in Shenzhen. Last year, China replaced the U.S. as Japan's largest trading partner.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China consumed more than 20% of Japanese exports for the first time last year, driven largely by its ability to shake off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy quicker than other major trading partners.

China took in 15.08 trillion yen ($146 billion) worth of Japanese goods in 2020, according to preliminary data released Thursday by Japan's Ministry of Finance, leapfrogging the U.S. to become Japan's leading destination for exports for the first time in two years.

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