The rise in exports compared with the median
estimate of a 17.8 percent increase in a Reuters poll of
economists and followed an 18.4 percent gain in November. It
marks a 10th straight month of gains helped by a weak yen and
car shipments. Imports rose 24.7 percent year-on-year in
December, compared with an expected rise of 26.1 percent, due to
the weak currency and a rise in demand for fossil fuels to make
up for nuclear energy lost since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
As a result, the country's trade balance stood at a deficit of
1.3 trillion yen ($12.7 billion) in December, against a 1.2225
trillion yen deficit expected by analysts, posting a record 18
straight months of deficits. For 2013, Japan logged a record
annual trade gap of 11.47 trillion yen, widening from 6.94
trillion yen in the previous year and marking a third straight
year of deficit, the longest run on record, dating back to 1979.
($1 = 102.3550 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto;
editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Dominic Lau)
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