TOKYO • Japan's trade deficit rose in July from the month before to a wider than expected $9.4 billion, though exports were higher for the first time in three months, the government said Wednesday.
It was the 25th straight monthly trade deficit for the world's third-largest economy, due mainly to an increase in imports of oil and gas to compensate for idled nuclear reactors following meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in 2011.
Exports rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier to $60.2 billion, slightly outpacing a 2.3 percent increase in imports, to $69.5 billion.
Japan's demand for imports has moderated in recent months as business slowed following an increase in the national sales tax. But a recovery in overseas demand, especially for machinery, buses and trucks, is a welcome relief. Exports have so far failed to rally as much as expected, despite a weakening in the Japanese yen against the dollar and other currencies over 2012 and 2013.