Japan's LNG imports soared 11.2 percent to a record high of 87.31 million tonnes in 2012, driven by an increased need for fuel to generate electricity after the nuclear sector was hit by the Fukushima crisis, government data showed on Thursday. Japan logged a record trade deficit of 6.927 trillion yen ($78.24 billion) in 2012 as the debt crisis in the euro zone and a territorial row with China hurt exports, while the shutdown of nuclear power plants after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami pushed up energy imports.
Japan is the world's top importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and last year's shipments were also a record in value terms at 6 trillion yen, overturning a previous record in 2011.
Crude oil imports by the world's third-biggest oil consumer totalled 213.03 million kilolitres (3.66 million barrels per day) in 2012, rising 2.0 percent from a 22-year low in 2011, the customs-cleared data from the Ministry of Finance also showed.
Japan paid a record price for crude at $114.90 per barrel last year, compared with $108.65 in 2011.
In December, Japan's customs-cleared crude oil imports fell 0.8 percent to 19.687 million kilolitres (3.99 million barrels per day) from a year earlier, the preliminary data showed.
That compared with imports of 19.842 million in December 2011 and November imports of 16.096 million kl.
LNG imports were 7.705 million tonnes last month, the highest for the month of December and up 7.4 percent from a year earlier. Imports of thermal coal for power generation fell 2.8 percent in December to 8.478 million tonnes, the data showed.