Year-on-year, sales dropped by 11.3 percent to 5,090.95 JPY billion in May, while markets expected a 10.4 percent decline. It was the 8th consecutive month of decline and the fastest fall since January as sales to the country's main export partners fell. Those to China declined by 14.9 percent, followed by South Korea (-9.1 percent), Singapore (-5.6 percent), Hong Kong (-23.3 percent), Thailand (-16.8 percent), Indonesia (-9.0 percent) and India (-10.8 percent). Sales also fell to the US (-10.7 percent), the EU countries (-4.0 percent), Western Europe (-3.5 percent), the Middle East (-10.7 percent), Russia (-13.3 percent) and South Africa (-34.3 percent).
By product, shipments of raw materials dropped the most by 19.5 percent year-on-year), followed by manufactured goods (-18.1 percent) and electrical machinery (-16.1 percent, contributed by semiconductors: -20.0 percent, visual apparatus: -23.3 percent, audio apparatus: -12.1 percent, parts of audio visual apparatus: -27.8 percent and electrical power machinery:-13.0 percent), chemicals (-12.6 percent, driven by organic chemicals: -24.5 percent and plastic materials:-12.9 percent) and others (-12.3 percent). Sales also declined for: machinery (-9.5 percent, mainly due to power generating machine: -13.4 percent, computers and units :-8.9 percent, parts of computer: -24.0 percent and metalworking machinery:-29.2 percent), mineral fuels (-7.5 percent), transport equipment (-3.3 percent) and foodstuff (-0.9 percent).
Imports decreased by 13.8 percent from a year earlier to 5,953.22 JPY billion. It was the 17th straight month of decline and matching market estimates. Purchases fell from most of the country's trading partners, including China (-9.7 percent), Hong Kong (-16.2 percent), Taiwan (-5.8 percent), South Korea (-21.4 percent), Thailand (-10.4 percent) and Malaysia (-20.0 percent). Imports also declined from the US (-8.5 percent), Russia (-26.0 percent), the EU countries (-1.5 percent), the Middle East (-30.7 percent) and South Africa (-28.4 percent). In contrast, imports rose from Germany (+11.1 percent, Italy (+11.3 percent) and Belgium (+37.4 percent).
Purchases decreased for most categories: mineral fuels (-33.5 percent), mainly due to petroleum: -30.6 percent, petroleum products: -51.5 percent, LNG: - 41.9 percent: LPG -34.6 percent and coal: -6.5 percent, foodstuff (-8.9 percent), raw materials (-18.9 percent), chemicals (-6.3 percent), manufactured goods (-13.5 percent), machinery (-6.7 percent), electrical machinery (-9.1 percent) and others (-3.8 percent). In contrast, purchases rose 3.0 percent for transport equipment
In April 2016, the country posted a 823.47 JPY billion trade surplus, the largest since March 2010.