TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan logged a goods trade deficit of 888.8 billion yen ($8.2 billion) in the first half of 2019, weighed down by sluggish exports to other Asian countries amid intensifying trade tensions between the United States and China, government data showed Thursday.
The trade deficit followed a 1.8 trillion yen deficit in the second half of last year, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry.
During the January-June period, exports fell 4.7 percent from a year earlier to 38.24 trillion yen and imports decreased 1.1 percent to 39.13 trillion yen. Both exports and imports were down for the first time in five six-month periods.
By region, Japan's China-bound exports, such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment and auto parts, dropped 8.2 percent from a year earlier. Imports from China, including computers and televisions, inched up 0.1 percent, leaving Japan with a deficit of 2.05 trillion yen.
For the whole of Asia, including China, Japan had a trade surplus of 1.73 trillion yen, down 41.9 percent, amid declines in exports of semiconductor manufacturing machinery to South Korea.
The world's third-largest economy recorded a surplus of 3.46 trillion yen with the United States, helped by robust demand for Japanese cars, despite President Donald Trump's drive to cut his country's massive deficits with its trading partners.
In the first six months of 2019, Japan saw a 239.1 billion yen deficit with the European Union amid falls in exports of ships and motorcycles.
In June alone, Japan recorded a trade surplus of 589.5 billion yen, with exports shrinking 6.7 percent and imports declining 5.2 percent from a year earlier.
The figures were measured on a customs-cleared basis.