Japan's imports from China plunged in February

Japan's imports from China almost halved last month from a year earlier to log the steepest fall since 1986 as the new coronavirus outbreak disrupted trade, official data showed.

February imports from China, Japan's biggest trade partner along with the United States, plunged 47.1 per cent to 673.4 billion yen ( 6.3 billion) while exports slipped 0.4 per cent to 1.14 trillion yen.

"The virus outbreak hampered manufacturing activities in China, which naturally resulted in drops in Japanese imports from there," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

As the virus woes in China calm, import drops will likely narrow but there are mounting worries over the U.S and European economies, Minami said.

"As the outbreak goes global, U.S and European demand is bound to shrink... Even if Japan makes products, there will be no good place to ship," Minami told.

Japanese exports are likely to decline or Japan may slip back into a trade deficit, he said.