Japan suffered a record trade deficit of 11.4 trillion yen in 2013, mainly because of the upsurge in liquid natural gas imports to replace its mothballed nuclear complex. Japan has no domestic oil and gas resources and relies entirely on imports. LNG imports actually rose steadily over the past decade but spiked to new heights after the Fukushima accident in 2011.
Nuclear provided more than 30 percent of its electricity before Fukushima. Since then popular pressures have kept Japan's entire complex of 50 reactors shut down. The election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was supposed to signal a restart but nothing has happened yet. But the victory of pro-nuclear candidate Yoichi Masuzoe in yesterday's election for mayor of Tokyo may give a nuclear revival further impetus.