Japan posted its worst November trade deficit on record Wednesday, as a weaker yen drove up the cost of imported oil and gas.
The energy-starved country continues to rely on costly imported energy as most of its nuclear power plants remain closed following the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant.
A sharp decline in the yen's value has made energy imports even more expensive. It has also led to more exports of Japanese goods, which became cheaper overseas.
For the month, imports grew 21 percent, while exports climbed 18 percent. This resulted in a November trade deficit of $12.9 billion.
That represents a 35 percent increase from last year and is the worst November ever recorded. It also represents a record 17th straight month of trade deficits.
Japan's nuclear industry was crippled following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and forced nearly all of the country's nuclear plants offline for safety checks.
Meanwhile, Japan's currency last week hit a five-year low against the dollar, partly because of Tokyo's monetary easing, a policy that increases the money supply in an effort to fight deflation.
Some analysts expect Japan's trade deficit to shrink early next year following a sales tax increase that has led to last-minute purchases that appear to be boosting imports.