TOKYO, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Japan posted current account surplus of 229 billion yen (1.59 billion U.S. dollars) for July, down 86.6 percent year on year, as yen's continuous depreciation against the U.S. dollar and rising prices for oil led to imports expansion and shrinking profits, a government report said Thursday.
The reading marked the narrowest surplus for the month since 1985 when comparable data became available.
According to the Finance Ministry, the country had a goods trade deficit of 1.21 trillion yen in July, and a service trade deficit of 790.8 billion yen.
The services trade deficit, which includes cargo shipping and passenger transportation, expanded 26.2 percent.
The ministry also said in its preliminary report that exports gained 18.5 percent to 8.58 trillion yen due to economic recovery, but the growth was outpaced by that of exports which climbed 47.6 percent to 9.8 trillion yen.
In July, the country's import costs skyrocketed as the dollar strengthened to 136.63 yen from 110.29 yen a year ago, while the price of crude oil nearly doubled in yen over the same month last year.
Japan's primary income, which reflects returns on investments made overseas, meanwhile, saw a surplus of 2.43 trillion yen, rising 23.6 percent from a year earlier, the latest data also showed.
Japan's current account surplus is one of the broadest measures of its trade with the rest of the world.
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.
Both the Japanese government and private payments are included in the calculation and it is called the current account because goods and services are generally consumed in the current period. ■