Japan registered a current account deficit of 172.8 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in January, for the first time in 13 years, with a 46.3 per cent fall in exports and a 31.7 per cent fall in imports.
Its exports tumbled to 3.282 trillion yen ($34.1875 billion), down 46.3 per cent from a year earlier, while imports at 4.127 trillion yen ($42.9895 billion) registered a 31.7 per cent fall, data provided by the finance ministry showed.
Japan, which recorded a trade surplus of 1.164 trillion yen ($12.1250 billion) a year earlier, saw its exports plunging with the global economic downturn. (See: Japan's January trade deficit at its worst since WW II)
For Japan, the world's second largest economy, which is heavily reliant on exports, this is its first current account deficit since 1996. (See: Japan heading for worst recession since WW II: S&P)
Exports to the US dropped 52.9 per cent, while shipments to other Asian countries fell 46.7 per cent compared to exports in January 2008, official data showed.
Vehicle shipments plummeted 66.1 per cent, while exports of semiconductor products fell 52.8 per cent.
The current account measures the difference between Japan's income from foreign sources, including trade in goods, services, tourism and investment and payments on foreign obligations. It excludes net capital investment.
For the first 20 days of February 2009, value of Japan's exports fell 46 per cent to 2,395.54 billion yen (down 46 per cent from 4,473.86 billion yen in the same period last year. Inports at 2,526.50 billion yen were down 37.8 per cent from 4,060.56 billion in the same period last year.
The balance of trade showed a deficit of 130.96 billion yen against a surplus of 413.31 billion yen in the same period of the previous year.
Japan's reserve assets totaled $1,009.354 billion as of 28 February 2009, down $1.604 billion from the end of January.
The current account is seen as a major indicator of the direction of global trade.