Japan's import growth also slowed (9.8 percent in the year to June) signaling that its trade patterns are returning to normal following the natural disaster. Exports jumped 5.4 percent from May and were down 1.6 percent from June 2010.
Auto exports significantly improved in June as manufacturers made further progress in mending supply chains ripped apart by the disaster and bringing production back to pre-quake levels. Still, auto shipments dipped 12.5 percent in June from a year earlier, but that marked a swift recovery from a 38.9 percent slump in May and a 67.0 percent drop in April, the data showed.
Shipments to China rose an annual 1.2 percent, the first increase in three months, while those to the United States fell 6.1 percent.
The nation's imports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose due to higher oil prices and a suspension of nuclear reactors by several utilities that boosted demand for LNG.