TOKYO Japan's export growth fell well short of expectations in September, data showed on Monday, suggesting the weaker yen resulting from the government's "Abenomics" stimulus policies has not managed to offset declining demand from emerging economies.
Despite the trade data, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda maintained an upbeat assessment of the economy, saying it is recovering moderately and will continue to do so.
"Japan's economy is making steady progress toward achieving the BOJ's 2 percent inflation target," Kuroda said in a speech to a quarterly meeting of the central bank's branch managers.
Exports rose 11.5 percent in September from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance's trade data showed, less than a median market forecast for a 15.6 percent increase and slower than a 14.6 percent growth in August.
The data also showed exports were down 0.3 percent from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Exports to the United States, the European Union and Asia all continued to increase in September from a year earlier but at a slower pace than in August.
A notable slowdown was in exports to Asia, which rose just 8.2 percent in September after growing 13.5 percent in August.
"The positive effect of the weak yen may have run its course. We might not see a marked improvement in exports from here if the recovery in overseas growth does not pick up," said Junko Nishioka, chief Japan economist at RBS Securities.
Imports rose 16.5 percent in September from a year earlier, less than the median forecast of a 20 percent increase.
With the weak yen inflating the cost of importing fuel, Japan logged a trade deficit of 932 billion yen ($9.5 billion) in September, running a negative balance for the 15th straight month.
In the April-September fiscal first half of this year, Japan ran a trade deficit of 4.99 trillion yen, a record amount on a fiscal half-year basis, the data showed.
($1 = 97.7650 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Eric Meijer)