NHK interviewed expert Saito Taro of NLI Research Institute about the record trade deficit in 2022.
He says Japan's exports to its largest trading partner China fell sharply last year. The analyst says Beijing's zero-COVID policy stalled the economy, dealing a heavy blow to shipments.
Saito says Japan's strong manufacturing industry used to bring in money through increased exports. But he says this has become difficult to keep up over the past 30 to 40 years.
He explains that when an economy develops, more services become available, and the power of its manufacturing industry gradually declines. He says that this is not only the case for Japan, but also other countries. He says Japan's exports have weakened and that it is difficult for them to grow structurally.
Saito expects 2023 to be a tougher year for Japan's exporters due to economic slowdowns in the United States and Europe.
But he believes the large deficit will shrink this year as imports stop growing.