Japan logged its fourth straight monthly trade deficit in October as the European debt crisis and strained business ties with China over a territorial dispute reduced exports.
The Ministry of Finance said Wednesday that imports exceeded exports by $6.7 billion, the biggest deficit for October since at least 1979, when the ministry began keeping comparable records.
Exports for the month fell 6.5 percent from a year earlier while imports slipped 1.6 percent.
For years, Japan ran huge trade surpluses, which frequently caused trade friction with the U.S. But since last year, Japan has been regularly registering trade deficits as it shifts more production overseas and faces greater competition from Asian rivals such as South Korea, Taiwan and China. The strong yen as also made it expensive for Japan's major automobile and electronics makers to produce at home.
This year, Japan has registered trade deficits every month except February and June.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)