Japan's current account surplus hit 17.98 trillion yen (165.90 billion U.S. dollars) in fiscal 2015, doubling that of a year earlier, aided by a drop in prices for crude oil and a hike in the number of tourists visiting Japan, the Finance Ministry has said.
According to the ministry's preliminary report, a drop in global oil prices helped see import costs lowered commensurately during the recording period and helped change a deficit of of 6.59 trillion yen logged in 2014, to a surplus of 629.9 billion yen in fiscal 2015.
Imports were down 11.8 percent to 72.51 trillion yen, with exports easing 3.3 percent to 73.14 trillion yen, the finance ministry also said, as the current account surplus soared to its highest level in five years, with a notable travel surplus also helping to widen margins.
The finance ministry noted, in addition, that the travel surplus hit 1.27 trillion yen, the highest amount since record keeping began in 1996, as the yen's weakness has given foreign visitors more purchasing power here. The primary income account surplus rose 2.9 percent to 20.56 trillion yen, showing a rise in earnings from foreign investments, the government also said, while for the month of March alone, it said the balance stood at 2.98 trillion yen, posting a surplus for the 21st straight month.
Japan's current account surplus is one of the broadest measure of its trade with the rest of the world and the data is keenly eyed by the Bank of Japan and the finance ministry ahead of new potential policy changes or monetary easing or tapering measures. In Japan, the current account surplus increases the nation's net foreign assets by the corresponding amount, and a current account deficit does the reverse.