TOKYO - Japan's exports rose for the 23rd straight month in April, but the pace of increase slowed.
Collapsing exports to Asia held the overall growth in outbound shipments to 4.9 percent, or 380,113, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said last week.
It was only the second time in the past 12 months that the growth in exports was limited to single digits.
Shipments to the United States, which have trailed those to other markets for several months now, rose 4.2 percent to 105,241.
U.S.-bound exports were held down by a nearly 44 percent drop in exports to North America by Nissan Motor Co., which is trying to work down an inventory surplus.
Exports to major markets such as Europe, South America and the Middle East continued to grow.
Exports to Europe rose 29.1 percent to 126,136. With quotas constraining shipments to Britain and northern Europe, exports to Spain jumped 42 percent and those to Italy surged nearly threefold.
Asia was the major drag on exports.
Asia-bound exports tumbled 60.3 percent to 22,467. Exports fell by more than 90 percent to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and by 74 percent to the Philippines.
Even exports to China, which had held relatively steady recently, slipped 10 percent to 8,959.
Exports to Asia are likely to slide further, due to the economic and political instability in Indo-nesia in May. Moreover, Japan's second-largest Asian market in April was Pakistan, which took 2,663 vehicles.
Japan has imposed economic sanctions on Pakistan, however, because of that country's recent nuclear-weapons test.