Japan logged a surprise trade surplus of 32.9 billion yen ($394 million) in February, after posting a record trade deficit in the previous month, data showed Thursday.
The trade surplus, the first in five months, was still far smaller than a surplus of 636.99 billion yen posted in the same month last year.
The latest figure beat market forecasts of a 110 billion yen deficit, according to a poll by by Dow Jones Newswires and the Nikkei business daily.
Exports fell 2.7 percent from a year earlier to 5.44 trillion yen in February on weaker demand for steel and other products, the finance ministry data showed.
Imports increased 9.2 percent to 5.41 trillion yen in the month on strong demand for crude oil and liquid natural gas, marking the 26th consecutive month of gains in imports, the data said.
Demand for fossil fuels has surged in Japan after last year's earthquake-tsunami disaster sparked the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years, leading the government to take many atomic reactors offline.
Japan logged a record trade deficit of 1.48 trillion yen in January as fuel imports rose to meet electricity generation needs, with most nuclear reactors offline since the disaster.