The world's third-largest economy recorded its seventh straight month of falling exports in April, official data showed on Monday, adding to the country's gloomy outlook.
Exports dropped 10.1 percent on-year in April, in line with estimates and worse than March's 6.8 percent slide, clocking up the fastest pace of decline in three months. Imports, meanwhile, tanked by an annual 23 percent, worse than Reuters poll expectations for a 19 percent drop and outstripping the previous month's 14.9 percent fall.
That left the nation with a trade surplus of 823 billion yen ($7.48 billion), below Reuters estimates for a 492.8 billion yen surplus.
The benchmark equity index opened in negative territory following the report, with the Nikkei down 1 percent in early trade, while the yen was little changed around 109.9 per dollar, near Friday's three-week low of 110.59.
Economists widely blamed an appreciating currency for April's poor performance. The yen has spiked 10 percent against the greenback since the start of the year, according to Reuters, reducing the value of repatriated earnings for export-oriented companies.
"The further strengthening of the exchange rate suggests that the drag from falling export prices should persist for now...All in all, therefore, today's figures underline that the BoJ still has more work to do to reach its 2 percent inflation target," said Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at Capital Economics.