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Japan's trade deficit soars 35 percent to US$12.9 bil. on fuel import costs

TOKYO--Japan's trade deficit has ballooned 35 percent from a year ago as fuel imports have soared following the 2011 nuclear catastrophe.

The government said Wednesday the trade deficit for November totaled 1.29 trillion yen (US$12.9 billion) compared to a deficit of 957 billion yen the same month in 2012. Imports grew 21 percent last month, even as exports improved 18 percent year-on-year.

The sinking value of the yen is also weighing on Japan. A weak yen is a boon for exporters but adds to the fuel bill.

Japanese are wary of nuclear power after the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.

All of Japan's reactors were shut down after the disaster. A handful went back online but have since been turned off for safety checks.

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