Japan's trade deficit nearly doubled on-year to a bigger-than-expected $10.9 billion in October as the country's energy bill soared, government data showed Wednesday. The shortfall of 1.09 trillion yen ($10.9 billion) was larger than the 810 billion yen in red ink economists had expected on average, and an expansion of 96.1 percent from the year-before deficit of 556.2 billion yen. It was also the largest deficit for the month of October in comparable data that go back to 1979, according to the finance ministry. And it marked the 16th straight month of deficit, the longest spell since 1979. Overall imports jumped 26.1 percent to 7.2 trillion yen owing much to higher energy costs and rising demand for some electronic components. Energy bills from imports of pricey fossil fuels -- made more expensive by the weak currency -- weighed on the nation's trade balance. Energy imports surged after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown of Japan's nuclear reactors, which once supplied a third of the nation's power. Overall exports rose 18.6 percent to 6.1 trillion yen. By region, US-bound exports rose 26.4 percent to 1.16 trillion yen, despite a two-week government shutdown caused by political wrangling over state finances. Exports to China climbed 21.3 percent to 1.15 trillion yen, recovering from drops seen late last year after a territorial dispute over a set of islands in the East China Sea set off protests in China and a consumer boycott of Japan-branded goods. Shipments to the European Union went up 27.0 percent to 646.62 billion yen.