In May, imports jumped 17.8 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6,054.7 billion, faster than market expectations of a 14.8 percent gain. It was the strongest gain since early 2014, as purchases rose for most categories: Mineral fuels (41.5 percent), of which petroleum (8.7 percent); electrical machinery (11.5 percent); chemicals (16.6 percent); machinery (16.4 percent); others (8.8 percent), of which clothing (5.8 percent); foodstuff (11.9 percent); manufactured goods (14.6 percent); raw materials (25.7 percent). In contrast, imports of transport equipment fell 1.9 percent.
Among major trading partners, imports grew from China (9.6 percent), the US (7.4 percent), Australia (51.1 percent), South Korea (17.5 percent), Taiwan (11.1 percent), Germany (8.2 percent) and Thailand (25 percent).
Exports increased at a slower 14.9 percent to JPY 5,851.4 billion, below expectations of a 16.1 percent rise. Still, it was the sixth straight month of increase in exports and the fastest since January 2015 as sales rose mainly for transport equipment (12.5 percent) boosted by higher shipments of motor vehicles (8.2 percent). Also, exports went up for: Machinery (17.1 percent), boosted by power generating machine (20.9 percent) and semicon machinery (25.1 percent); manufactured goods (12.4 percent), led by iron and steel products (20 percent); electrical machinery (13.6 percent); chemicals (14 percent); others (25.8 percent), mainly boosted by scientific, optical instruments (24.8 percent). In contrast, outbound shipments of mineral fuels declined by 10 percent.
Among major trading partners, exports rose to China (23.9 percent), the US (11.6 percent), the EU (19.8 percent), South Korea (22.9 percent), Hong Kong (11.9 percent) and Thailand (16.3 percent). In contrast, sales dropped to Taiwan (-0.9 percent).