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Japan Has Record Trade Deficit as Rising Fuel Bill Hurts Growth

Japan, whose swelling trade surpluses stoked American ire in the 1980s and kept it from deeper stagnation during two decades of deflationary malaise, had a record deficit in 2013 thanks to a surging energy bill.

Three decades of surpluses came to a halt in 2011, when the Fukushima meltdowns shuttered nuclear-power plants. With a 16 percent increase in crude oil shipments, Japan had a trade gap of 11.5 trillion yen ($113 billion) in 2013, almost double the previous year, a finance ministry report showed in Tokyo.