TOKYO (AP) - Japan's exports in May dropped 10.3 percent from a year earlier, hit by massive production losses in the auto sector following the earthquake and tsunami disasters, the government said Monday.
Exports shrank to 4.76 trillion yen ($6 billion), marking the third straight year-on-year decline, the finance ministry said.
Imports rose 12.3 percent to 5.61 trillion yen, resulting in a trade deficit of 853.7 billion yen - Japan's second-biggest after a 967.9 billion yen deficit in January 2009.
Auto exports in May plunged 38.9 percent and shipments of auto parts dropped 18.5 percent due to production losses in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan.
The twin disasters left more than 23,000 people dead or missing and destroyed hundreds of factories in Japan's northeastern coastal region, forcing manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. to suspend production.
Japan's exports to the United States fell 14.6 percent in May. U.S.-bound auto exports nose-dived 43.5 percent in the month.
Exports to China - Japan's biggest trading partner - declined 8.1 percent. Asia-bound shipments were down 8.7 percent, while exports to the European Union fell 8.8 percent.