Kuwait\'s trade surplus with Japan narrowed 4.9 percent in August to JPY 93.4 billion (USD 949 million) from a year earlier, shrinking for the first time in four months, as imports grew, the Finance Ministry said Thursday. However, Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 67th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report. Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan fell 4.0 percent to JPY 102.8 billion (USD 1.0 billion) for the first decline in two months, and imports from Japan gained 7.0 percent year-on-year to JPY 9.4 billion (USD 96 million), up for the fourth consecutive month. Middle East\'s trade surplus with Japan jumped 23.2 percent to JPY 1.129 trillion (USD 11.5 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region expanding 21.2 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 98.0 percent of the region\'s total exports to Japan, soared 20.8 percent on the year. The region\'s overall imports from Japan went up 10.1 percent, mainly due to robust shipments of automobile and manufactured goods. The world\'s third-biggest economy registered a global deficit of JPY 960.3 billion (USD 9.8 billion) in August, marking the 14th straight month of shortfall, the longest stretch of red ink since 1979-1980, when the country had been hit by the second oil shock, as the growth of imports outpaced that of exports on the yen\'s drop. It was the biggest trade deficit for the month of August since comparable data became available in 1979. Overall exports grew 14.7 percent to JPY 5.784 trillion (USD 58.8 billion) on solid demand for vehicles. Imports increased 16.0 percent to JPY 6.744 trillion (USD 68.5 billion), as the weaker yen pushed up fossil fuel imports costs, which comprise more than one third of all imports. Japan\'s currency weakened about 25.4 percent from a year earlier in August, according to the ministry. Japanese utilities have boosted fuel imports for thermal power generation, as all the nation\'s 50 workable nuclear reactors are currently offline in the wake of the radiation accident in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami. Exports to China, Japan\'s biggest trading partner, rose 15.8 percent, and imports from the country grew 17.6 percent, despite a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.