Kuwait\'s crude oil exports to Japan surged 177.6% in August from a year earlier to a 42-month high of 10.90 million barrels, or 352,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the first increase in two months, according to the Natural Resources and Energy Agency (NREA) said in a preliminary report released here on Friday. The figure was the highest since February 2009, when Kuwait sold 12.40 million barrels (443,000 bpd) to Japan. As the Asian nation\'s fourth-biggest oil supplier, Kuwait provided 9.8% of Japan\'s total crude imports, compared with 3.6% in the same month of last year and 4.9% in July, the NREA report added. Japan\'s overall imports of crude oil in August rose 2.9% year-on-year to 111.77 million barrels (3.61 million bpd) for the first expansion in two months. Shipments from the Middle East accounted for 84.3 % of the total, up 1.5 percentage points from a year before. Saudi Arabia remained Japan\'s biggest oil supplier, with imports from the kingdom growing 6.9% on the year to 1.09 million bpd, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 766,000 bpd, down 7.0%. Qatar ranked third with 476,000 bpd, up 36.9 % and Russia fifth with 148,000 bpd, down 22.5%, respectively. Although the Japanese government provides insurance for tankers carrying Iranian crude bound for Japan, its imports from Iran plunged 66.8% to 101,000 bpd last month. The special measure enables the world\'s No.3 oil consumer to continue importing Iranian oil even after new European Union (EU) sanctions against Iran starting from July, which ban insurance firms of EU countries from covering Iran\'s exports. Japan has also secured a waiver from US financial sanctions against Iran in return for cutting its imports of Iranian crude oil. Resources-poor Japan relies on crude oil imports for about 50% of its energy needs. Shipments of direct-deal, which prices are based on the average spot price of Dubai crude, the benchmark for Asia, account for about 80% of Japan\'s crude imports.