TOKYO: Japan's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose to another record in 2013 as the country's second complete shutdown of its nuclear stations since
the Fukushima disaster in 2011 forced utilities to burn more fossil fuels to generate power.
The soaring cost of fuel imports let Japan to post a record annual trade gap of 11.47 trillion yen (US$112.06bil) in 2013, up from 6.94 trillion yen in the previous year and a third straight year of deficit.
LNG imports increased 0.2% to 87.49 million tonnes last year, the Ministry of Finance said in preliminary trade figures on Monday.
Japan's crude oil imports in 2013 fell 0.6% to 3.65 million barrels per day (211.717 million kilolitres), a two-year low.
Japan, the world's top importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), paid a record 7.06 trillion yen (US$68.98bil) last year for LNG, overturning a previous record in 2012.
In December, Japan imported 8.09 million tonnes of LNG, up 4.9% from a year earlier and the highest since January 2013.
Imports of thermal coal for power generation rose 17.5% to 9.97 million tonnes percent last month, the data showed.
The volume of Japan's customs-cleared crude oil imports rose 0.2% in December to 4 million barrels per day (19.73 million kilolitres) from a year earlier, the preliminary data showed – Reuters.