Japan snapped a 14-month run of falling exports in December, with shipments to China setting a record as global demand picks up. The rise left Japan with a trade surplus for a fourth consecutive month.
Any increase in exports helps Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive Japan’s economy, feeding corporate profits and, ideally, wage gains. But Japan now faces a good deal of uncertainty about the future of trade, including possible U.S. trade barriers, whether aimed at Japan or key trading partner China. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which counted Japan among its signatories, and has said Japan is among countries engaging in unfair trade with the U.S.