Shipments abroad fell 39.1 per cent from a year earlier, after dropping 45.5 per cent in March and a record 49.4 per cent in February.
Shipments to the U.S. fell 46.3 per cent last month, less than March’s 51.4 per cent decline, whilst sales to Europe slid 45.4 per cent from 56.1 per cent over the same period. Exports to China dropped 25.8 per cent, moderating from 31.6 per cent
However, on a seasonally adjusted basis, exports rose 1.9 per cent in April from March, after also gaining some over February.
Imports fell 35.8 per cent from a year earlier.
Industrial output figures are still not out, but they are expected to show a rebound of 3.3 per cent in April from a month earlier, the biggest jump in at least six years.
Shipments to mainland China, especially chemicals used to make plastics, mobile phones and digital cameras rose in April from a year earlier as Beijing's stimulus package filtered through the economy.
US consumers have also regained some confidence as many in the West need to restock after a heavy run-down of inventories
Times remain tough though. Like other Asian economies Japan’s is highly dependent on export. Any recent improvement has not been sufficient to create jobs to offset mass layoffs of recent months, let alone enable workers to get wage hikes.
“The overall economy will probably remain stagnant as there is no help from consumer spending and business investment,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo.
Other experts have also noted that exports and industrial output are stabilising but that it will take time before the trend changes direction.