TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese exports rose for the first time in six months, inching up 2.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday, a sign of recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disasters.
Exports had declined for five straight months following that catastrophe, which led to a serious parts shortage for manufacturers in the automobile and electronics industries.
In a positive sign for the auto industry, motor vehicles exports rose 5.3 percent in August.
However, Japanese manufacturers are now being threatened by the recent surge in the yen, which erodes foreign earned income. The dollar is hovering in the 76-yen range, near record lows.
Nintendo Co., for example, makes 80 percent of its sales outside of Japan. Major manufacturers like Nissan Motor Co. and Panasonic Corp. have said they will seek to insulate themselves from foreign exchange volatility by relying less on exports from Japan.
Overall, the value of goods exported in August totaled 5.36 trillion yen ($70.5 billion), while imports came to 6.13 trillion ($80.7 billion), up 19.2 percent, the ministry said.
That gave Japan a global trade deficit of 775 billion yen ($10.2 billion).
Exports to mainland China, Japan's biggest trading partner, rose 2.4 percent to 1.07 trillion yen ($14.1 billion), while imports from China increased 16.3 percent to 1.30 trillion yen ($17.1 billion).
With the U.S., exports gained 3.5 percent to 804 billion yen ($10.6 billion), while imports rose 2.6 percent to 504 billion yen ($6.6 billion), the report showed.