Japan’s latest trade figures have shown exports falling for a fourth straight month, according to official numbers.
The country’s value of exports fell by 12.9% in January from a year earlier, supporting concerns that the slowdown in China – one of the country’s most important trading partners – is continuing to hurt demand.
Imports, meanwhile, fell by 18%.
The figures leave the world’s third biggest economy with a deficit of 645.94bn yen ($5.65bn; £3.95bn).
Expectations were for a fall in exports of just over 11% and a drop in imports of 16%.
Investors seemed to shrug off the latest trade data, however, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 rising more than 2.5% in early trading. But analysts said the numbers were not a good sign for the future of the economy.
“Japan’s January trade figures were woeful [and] this is more fodder for those who think Japan’s economy is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Chris Weston from IG Markets.
Japan’s economy has been struggling, and analysts have said the government must shore up growth in its exports in order to support future economic expansion.
For every 1% that Japan’s economy grows, between 0.5 and 0.7% comes from exports.
On Monday, the country posted a contraction in economic growth for the final three months of 2015, adding to a string of setbacks for the government’s economic reform policy.
Between October and December, it shrank by 0.4% compared with the previous quarter.
In a surprise move last month, the country’s central bank cut its interest rates to below zero for the first time ever in an attempt to boost growth. The cut was implemented this week.