Japan's trade imbalance with the rest of the world has grown even more lopsided. The government announced a record $12.2 billion surplus - just for the first half of the fiscal year. Officials say the surplus for the entire year could touch $23 billion.
Exports bulged to more than $75 billion, an increase of almost 19 percent over the same period last year.
The release of the figures coincided with a call from leading Japanese business executives who, perhaps fearing a backlash against Japanese goods, called for looser restrictions on imports.
US Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige arrived here Wednesday for talks centering on opening Japanese markets to American products and the current trade imbalance.