Japan's trade deficit widened to a record in January as surging import costs weigh on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign to drive a sustained recovery. The 2.79 trillion yen ($27.3 billion) shortfall reported by the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo today exceeded the 2.49 trillion yen median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 28 economists. Imports rose 25 percent from a year earlier and outbound shipments gained 9.5 percent.


Swelling energy imports are contributing to the trade shortfall, with all of Japan's 48 operable reactors shut for inspections after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, and no set date for restarting them. Electric utilities' output from fossil-fuel thermal plants rose to a record in January.

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