Japan's trade sector started out the year on a strong note though it slipped into deficit for the first time in eight months due to higher oil prices and seasonal factors.
Customs data released Monday showed imports rose 8 percent from a year earlier to 7.03 trillion yen ($66 billion). Exports jumped 12 percent to 6.09 trillion yen ($57.1 billion), leaving a deficit of 943.4 billion yen ($8.8 billion).
Exports to China jumped 30 percent from a year earlier.
Oil prices have gained over the past year, rising from about $55 per barrel in January 2017 to more than $70 per barrel for part of last month. As a resource-scarce nation, Japan imports nearly all of its...