Japan's current account surplus plunged at a record pace of 50.2 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2008 as the world's second largest economy was hard hit by rapidly shrinking exports amid the global recession, said the finance ministry on Wednesday.
It is the first shrinkage in seven years for the current account surplus, which stood at 12,229.1 billion yen (126.07 billion U.S. dollars) in fiscal 2008 ending March 31, said the ministry in a preliminary report.
The steep contraction came after Japan had a record surplus in its current account for five straight years through fiscal 2007.
Exports dived at a record pace of 16.3 percent to 67,724.9 billion yen (698.19 billion dollars) while imports fell by 3.9 percent to 66,554.5 billion yen (686.12 billion dollars), according to the report.
In March alone, the surplus fell for the 13th consecutive month, down by 48.8 percent year-on-year to 1,485.6 billion yen (15.31 billion dollars).
The current account balance, the broadest gauge of trade in goods, services, tourism and investment, is calculated by determining the difference between a nation's income from foreign sources and payments on foreign obligations, excluding net capital investment.