Concerns about the efficacy of Japan's economic recovery have risen once again following the release of new trade data.
Official figures published by the country's Ministry of Finance yesterday (21 March) have shown that the Asian superpower experienced a trade deficit for the eighth consecutive month in February.
Over the course of the month, exports declined by 2.9 per cent when compared to February 2012. By contrast, its volume of imports climbed by 11.9 per cent.
Japan - which has the world's third-largest economy - has struggled to maintain its strong export market in recent times due to various issues, including the ongoing eurozone debt crisis and its diplomatic dispute with its primary Asian trading partner China.
These latest figures mean the discrepancy between imports and exports now stands at 777.5 billion yen ($8 billion).
Junko Nishioka, chief economist at RBS Securities in Japan, told BBC News: "This trend is likely to continue and the trade deficit may even widen in the coming months."
By Gary Cooper