Japan registered a 2,915.8 billion yen goods trade deficit for the six months through June, the biggest on record, as rising energy imports more than offset a recovery in exports, the government said Wednesday. The sluggish outcome outlined the difficulty faced by the Japanese economy, affected by the stronger yen, a gloomier global economic outlook amid the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and growing demand for alternative energy resources given the loss of atomic power generation following last year's earthquake and tsunami, according to Japan's (Kyodo) news agency. In June alone, the trade balance slightly recovered, standing at 61.7 billion yen in surplus, the first black ink in four months, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report. During the first half of the year, the value of exports grew 1.5% from the same period a year before to 32,595.6 billion yen, mainly helped by robust shipments of auto and auto parts to the United States, China and Thailand. That of imports gained 7.4% to 35,511.3 billion yen as energy resources, most notably liquefied natural gas, have been increasingly consumed by domestic utilities to boost thermal power generation to cover the loss of atomic power due to safety concerns following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The figures were measured on a customs-cleared basis. The trade deficit was the biggest since the government began recording in 1979. The reference exchange rate between the US dollar and the yen came to 79.60 yen for the six months with the ministry saying it represented a 3.1% appreciation in the Japanese currency, causing downward pressure on exporters' earnings.