Japanese exports rose less than expected in November despite a sharp fall in the value of the yen which should spur overseas sales.
Exports increased by 4.9 percent, compared with the same month last year. In October they had been up by 9.6 percent.
However analysts pointed out October was an exceptional month due to one-off factors such as the delivery of ships to Singapore.
EU-bound exports fell for the first time in 18 months. They were down 1.3 percent.
The numbers keep the pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to produce results with his stimulus and reform measures.
Abe’s ruling coalition won snap elections at the weekend, giving the prime minister a fresh mandate to implement his “Abenomics” reforms.
Falling oil prices are another factor. “Exports are still seesawing,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute. “Falling oil prices will benefit importing nations, but we should also be aware of the fact that they stem from anxiety over the global outlook.”
The export data followed the Bank of Japan’s key tankan survey, which showed business confidence barely improved in the fourth quarter, suggesting a slow climb out of recession despite gains in share prices and a steep fall in the yen.