Japan's exports grew the most in a year in December, helped by a weak yen and pickup in overseas demand led by the United States, an encouraging sign for the recession-hit economy even as doubts persist about the strength of global consumption.
The 12.9 percent year-on-year rise in exports marked a fourth straight month of growth, supported by shipments of cars to the United States and of electronics parts to China, data by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) showed on Monday.
A recovery in exports, which has been a soft spot in the world's third-largest economy, could be a source of comfort for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is battling to re-kindle growth after an April sales tax hike drove Japan into a recession.
Still, with the exception of the United States, a largely gloomy global economic outlook has cast a cloud over external demand. The slump in oil prices to below $50 a barrel has also heightened global consumption and deflation concerns.