Japan's current account surplus in 2008 shrank 34.3 per cent from the previous year, the first fall in three years, as exports slumped due to weak demand from overseas, official figures showed on Monday.
Asia's largest economy posted a surplus of USD 176.8 billion in its current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, according to the finance ministry.
Japan's trade surplus last year plunged 67.3 per cent to 4,033.8 billion yen as exports slumped 3.0 per cent to 77,352.2 billion yen with imports up 8.8 per cent at 73,318.4 billion yen.
In December alone, Japan's current account surplus plunged 92.1 per cent from a year earlier to 125.4 billion yen, the ministry said.
Japan, which is in the midst of its first recession in seven years, logged a trade deficit of 197.9 billion yen in December, against a surplus of 996.8 billion yen a year earlier, the figures showed.
Exports in December dropped 35.1 per cent to 4,592.0 billion yen, the third straight year-on-year decline, while imports declined 21.2 percent to 4,789.8 billion yen.
Historically, Japan has run a large surplus in its current account thanks to brisk exports of cars, electronics and other goods.
But it has seen the surplus decline steadily in recent months as the global economic crisis prompts consumers to tighten their purse strings.