Japan posted its worst September trade figures in more than three decades, official data showed on Monday, as the global slowdown and a territorial spat with China weighed on overseas shipments.
Japan's monthly trade deficit was 558.6 billion yen ($7.0 billion), reversing a year-earlier surplus of 288.8 billion yen, data from the finance ministry showed, as overall exports fell 10.3 percent on-year.
It was the first deficit for the month of September since comparable data started in 1979, according to the ministry. Imports rose 4.1 percent due to higher energy imports following nuclear plant shutdowns after last year's Fukushima atomic crisis.
Shipments to China, which is Japan's biggest trading partner, tumbled 14.1 percent as demand dropped for Japan-branded cars and other products.
"The recent territorial spat with China has apparently taken its toll on exports to China," said Kengo Suzuki, forex strategist at Mizuho Securities.
Japan and China have been at loggerheads over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea and the dispute has seen Japanese firms shut down plants in China temporarily.
Tensions escalated in September with anti-Japanese rallies in major Chinese cities after Tokyo nationalised the chain, called the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China.
Weakness in the United States and Europe, two key markets for Japanese products, has also weighed, with US exports up just 0.9 percent in September.
Japan's shipments to Europe dived 21.1 percent.