Japan's trade deficit shrank 7.8 percent on-year in April, helped by higher exports as well as lower oil imports, data showed on Wednesday. Japan logged a deficit of 808.9 billion yen ($8.0 billion) against the year-before shortfall of 877.4 billion yen, the finance ministry said. Exports climbed 5.1 percent to 6.07 trillion yen on robust shipments of automobiles and other items. Imports rose 3.4 percent to 6.88 trillion yen, a much slower rate than high-paced rises seen over more than a year. Purchases of natural gas remained high to plug the resources-poor country's energy gap after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown of nuclear reactors, which had supplied a third of the nation'spower. The yen's plunge since late 2012 contributed to boosting import bills. But in April crude oil imports fell 11.2 percent in reaction to rush demand before a Japanese sales tax hike took effect. Japanese domestic demand for gasoline and other products picked up in the months before the April sales tax hike from 5.0 percent to 8.0 percent.