Japan's current account surplus last year shrank to its lowest since 1985, as exports to China and Europe slumped.
The finance ministry said the current account was Y4.7 trillion in 2012, the smallest annual surplus since 1985.
AAP reports the current account measures not only international trade in goods but also services, tourism and Japan's foreign investments abroad.
The deficit in December was 264.1 billion yen, reversing a surplus of 265.7 billion yen a year earlier.
Japan last month said the trade deficit for 2012 was a record, the second consecutive annual trade shortfall.