Japan's exports fell 4 percent on-year in February, a larger-than-expected drop, but slowed their decline from January.
A poll of analysts by Reuters showed expectations of a 3.1 percent fall in exports. But the fall was less sharp than the 12.9 percent on-year decline in January.
Imports fell 14.2 percent against the same month last year, data from the country's Ministry of Finance showed. Analysts expected a 15.2 percent fall.
Exports to China increased 5.1 percent, while exports to Asia as a whole where down 6.1 percent on-year.
The trade balance was considerably under the median estimate, coming in at a 242.8 billion yen ($2.2 billion) surplus, against expectations of a 388.6 billion yen surplus.
A MOF official attributed the jump in exports to China to demand stimulated by the Lunar New Year holiday, which took place in February, but that this made exports to the country look healthier than the reality.
- Reuters contributed to this report.