Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan sharply widened 44.2 percent in October to JPY 97.1 billion (USD 971 million) from a year earlier, expanding for the first time in three months as exports surged, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 69th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report. The country's overall exports to Japan grew 40.5 percent to JPY 114.2 billion (USD 1.1 billion) for the first increase in three months, and imports from Japan gained 22.5 percent year-on-year to JPY 17.0 billion (USD 170 million), up for the sixth consecutive month. The Middle East's trade surplus with Japan jumped 62.5 percent to JPY 1.107 trillion (USD 11.1 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region expanding 51.9 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and other natural resources, which accounted for 97.5 percent of the region's total exports to Japan, soared 51.5 percent on the year. The region's overall imports from Japan went up 13.8 percent, chiefly due to robust shipments of automobile, machinery, and electric equipment. The world's third-biggest economy's global deficit in October nearly doubled from a year ago to JPY 1.091 trillion (USD 10.9 billion), marking the 16th straight month of shortfall, the longest string 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 October since comparable data became available in 1979. Overall exports jumped 18.6 percent to JPY 6.105 trillion (USD 61.0 billion), up for the eighth month, buoyed by strong shipments of vehicles to the US, Europe, and China amid falling yen. Imports increased 26.1 percent to JPY 7.195 trillion (USD 71.9 billion), as the weaker yen continued to push up fossil fuel imports costs, which comprise more than one third of all imports. Japanese utilities have boosted fuel imports for thermal power generation, as all the nation's 50 workable nuclear reactors are currently offline. The facilities were sent 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, grew 21.3 percent, and imports from the country expanded 22.0 percent, despite a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. Japan's currency weakened about 25.5 percent from a year earlier to JPY 98. 26 in October, according to the ministry. The yen's depreciation supports exports by making Japanese products more competitive overseas and increases the value of repatriated overseas earning, but it also inflates import prices. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.