A Japanese flag flutters in front of a shipping container area, at a port in Tokyo.

Tokyo - Japan's trade deficit expanded 3.5 percent year-on-year to $7.9 billion in February, inflated by post-Fukushima energy bills and a jump in electronics parts imports, government data showed on Wednesday.

Japan incurred a deficit of 800.3 billion yen last month, registering a shortfall for the 20th straight month, the longest spell in more than three decades, the finance ministry said.

The median forecast by economists was for a smaller deficit of 595 billion yen, according to a poll by the leading Nikkei business daily.

In February, exports rose 9.8 percent to 5.8 trillion yen on shipments abroad of refined fuels as well as automobiles and plastics.

Imports grew 9.0 percent to 6.6 trillion yen, largely on higher purchases of liquefied natural gas and electronics parts.

Energy imports surged after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown of Japan's nuclear reactors, which once supplied a third of the nation's power.

A sharp decline in the yen, which is good for exporters' profitability, has also forced up the cost of importing pricey fossil-fuels to plug the country's energy gap. - Sapa-AFP