Japan went back to a trade deficit in April after the first surplus in almost three years the previous month, but the shortfall shrank drastically year-on-year, data showed on Monday.
The monthly deficit came in at 53.4 billion yen ($440 million), about one-15th of the 825.5 billion yen posted a year earlier, finance ministry data showed.
Stronger exports and lower energy bills resulted in the sharp drop in deficit.
Exports rose 8.0 percent year-on-year, chiefly on robust shipments of cars, electronics components and machinery while imports fell 4.2 percent as the cost of oil and gas fell.
The April deficit was much smaller than market expectations for a shortfall of more than 300 billion yen.
It came after a stronger-than-expected growth report last week.
Data from the Cabinet Office showed Japan's economy grew a faster-than-expected 0.6 percent on-quarter in the first three months of 2015 as it crawls back from a brief recession.
In March, Japan's trade balance posted a surplus for the first time since June 2012 on higher exports and lower energy bills.