Japan's exports tumbled 36 percent in August -- with car shipments falling by half -- and imports also contracted sharply, the government said Thursday, showing the world's No. 2 economy remains mired in a deep slump.
Declines in automobile and steel exports were especially pronounced, the Ministry of Finance said. Exports fell for the 11th straight month to 4.5 trillion yen ($49 billion).
"We are not seeing an improvement in exports due to a continued slump in global demand," said Hiroshi Watanabe, an economist at Daiwa Institute of Research. "Japan's exports were particularly hit hard by stagnant demand in Asia and China."
Imports, meanwhile, dropped 41.3 percent from a year earlier to 4.3 trillion yen, reflecting weak consumption within Japan, where the jobless rate is at a record high as companies shed workers. Consumer finance company Aiful Corp. said Thursday it will cut 2,000 jobs, or about 44 percent of its work force.
This is not the stuff of expansions.