Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan widened 15.5% in August to JPY 98.3 billion (USD 1.3 billion) from a year earlier, expanding for the first time since April. Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 55th consecutive month, the Finance Ministry said Thursday. Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan rose 12.7% to JPY 107.0 billion (USD 1.4 billion) for the first increase in two months, while imports from Japan fell 11.9% year-on-year to JPY 8.8 billion (USD 113 million), down for the first time since September 2011, the ministry said in a preliminary report. The Middle East's trade surplus with Japan narrowed 10.7% to JPY 915.8 billion (USD 11.7 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region shrinking 9.3 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 98.3% of the region's total exports to Japan, declined 9.2% on the year, with crude oil alone falling 11.1%. Imports from Japan to the Middle East edged down 1.2%, as shipments of machinery, steel, electronic components declined. The world's third-biggest economy logged a global deficit of JPY 754.1 billion (USD 9.6 billion) in August for the second straight month of red ink amid a slowdown in the global economy, the ministry said. Exports totaled JPY 5.046 trillion (USD 64.5 billion), down 5.8% on weak shipments to Europe and Asia. Exports to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, fell 9.9% on the year as the Chinese economy slowed on the impact of the European debt crisis. Imports also fell 5.4% to 5.800 trillion (USD 74.2 billion) due to a decline in fuel imports crude oil and nonferrous metal imports. Imports of crude oil went down 8.5 % and LNG rose 6.2 %, respectively. Japanese utilities have boosted imports of LNG for thermal power generation, as only two of the nation's 50 workable nuclear reactors are currently online 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. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.