TOKYO: Japan posted a current account surplus of ¥1.35 trillion ($12 billion) in November on robust earnings from foreign investments, marking the 41st straight month of black ink, government data showed Friday. But the surplus shrank 5.6 percent from a year ago as trade-reliant Japan had a smaller trade surplus of ¥181.0 billion in November due to a surge in imports. It marked the first year-on-year drop in five months, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report. Imports gained by a greater margin than exports, up 17.6 percent from a year ago to ¥6.59 trillion amid swelling energy imports in value. Increased shipments of semiconductor-related equipment and cars lifted the country’s exports by 13.9 percent to ¥6.77 trillion. Largely due to hefty foreign investment income, Japan’s current account surplus is one of the widest gauges of international trade. The surplus in the primary income account, which reflects how much the country earns from foreign investments, expanded 10.4 percent to ¥1.33 trillion, helped by the yen’s depreciation against the dollar and the euro. For the past few months, rising crude oil prices have had a strong bearing on the current account balance so if they continue to rise, they could weigh on the trade surplus,” said Yuichiro Nagai, an economist at Barclays Securities Japan Ltd. Crude oil imports jumped 28.4 percent in value as crude oil prices averaged $57.68 a barrel in November. Both exports and primary income are expected to remain solid, helping the current account surplus stay at relatively high levels.