BIG SWING: Japan's Finance Ministry reported a $6.5 billion trade deficit for July, compared with a surplus a year earlier. Exports fell 8 percent from a year earlier in July, while imports rose 2 percent.

STRONG YEN: The strong Japanese yen has hurt exports, as have disruptions caused by last year's earthquake and tsunami. Exports have dropped 28 percent from a year ago due to weaker European demand as the debt crisis there continues.

ENERGY NEEDS: Resource-scarce Japan's growing need for gas, oil and coal to offset lost nuclear power generation because of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami has pushed imports higher.