South Korea\'s trade deficit with Japan fell in the first half, compared with a year earlier mainly because exports by Asia\'s fourth-largest economy benefited from Japan\'s devastating quake in March, data showed Sunday. South Korea\'s exports to Japan rose 49.9 percent on-year to US$17.7 billion in the January-June period while imports grew 11.3 percent to $32.1 billion, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. Korea\'s trade deficit with the world\'s third-largest economy amounted to $14.4 billion in the first half, down from a $16.9 billion shortfall registered in the same period of last year, it showed. The government said a rise in Korea\'s exports to Japan mainly came as the powerful earthquake crippled factory operations there, causing Korea\'s overseas shipments of components and machinery to gain ground. South Korea has been suffering from a chronic trade deficit with Japan as the country heavily relies on imports of key industrial parts from the neighboring country. Compared with a year earlier, Korea\'s exports to Japan shot up 53.5 percent and 63.2 percent, respectively, in March and April. Meanwhile, the country\'s imports from Japan grew 8.4 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. In the first half, South Korea saw its exports of petrochemical products to Japan jump 157 percent and those of wireless communications goods rise 87.1 percent. Meanwhile, South Korea\'s exports to China, the country\'s No. 1 trade partner, slowed down in the first half, indicating that China\'s monetary tightening might have begun to sap its demand for overseas products. In the cited period, Korea\'s exports grew 16.6 percent from a year earlier, slowing from a 49.4 percent on-year expansion tallied in the first half of last year, data showed.