by News Staff Posted Jul 25, 2012 1:08 am MDT Japan trade deficit swells to record $37B in first half as fuel imports soar AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TOKYO – Japan reported its biggest half-year trade deficit ever as exports weakened and fuel imports soared to keep the power on while most reactors are idled in the aftermath of last year’s nuclear crisis.The Ministry of Finance on Wednesday reported a 2.9 trillion yen ($37.4 billion) trade deficit for the first half ended June 30. The deficit was triple the size of the deficit reported for the same period last year. First half exports fell 2.5 per cent from last year while imports surged 13.1 per cent.The latest trade deficit is the biggest since Japan started compiling such records in 1979.Until this month, all 50 of Japan’s working nuclear reactors were offline after the nuclear crisis set off in March 2011 by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Two reactors are now back online but the country still must rely more on oil and gas to supply electricity.Exports were dented by weaker demand stemming from Europe’s debt crisis. A strong yen also hurt exports.Disruptions to parts supplies caused by the disaster in northeastern Japan have also hurt exports as production of autos and electronics slowed, although have since recovered.Imports surged on the back of the growing cost of importing fuel, including oil, petroleum products, gas and coal.Japan has managed to eke out small trade surpluses in some months over the last year.Earlier this year, Japan reported a record annual trade deficit for the fiscal year ended March.
The Unconscious Patient (Sense of Smell)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York Four of Rembrandt’s earliest paintings are to be reunited for the first time in centuries after one was discovered in a cellar, as the Ashmolean Museum announces the hunt is still on for one final missing work.The quartet, four-fifths of the “Five Senses” series, are to go on public display in the Oxford museum, after “Smell” was sensationally rediscovered last year.It will now go on public show alongside Hearing, Touch and Sight for the first time, with as experts say the missing Taste could still be “languishing in someone’s attic” somewhere in the world. The Stone Operation (Sense of Touch)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York The Three Singers (Sense of Hearing)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York The paintings were created around 1624-5 when the artist was still a teenager, and depict the five senses – a popular allegorical theme of the day.Each picture shows three figures depicting a sense, with Sight showing a squinting woman trying on a pair of spectacles and Hearing showing three singers.Smell, long thought missing, was discovered lsat years in the basement of a New Jersey home in the United States, offered at auction for just $500-800 and thought to be by a minor 19th century painting by an unknown artist. But eagle-eyed European collectors spotted its potential, sparking a bidding war which raised the price to $870,000.The painting was eventually bought by the the Leiden Collection, New York, and restored, being attributed to Rembrandt not least because his monogram was on the canvas.The panel was unveiled to the public at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht earlier this year, and is now united with its series at the Ashmolean. An Van Camp, curator of Northern European art at the Ashmolean Museum, said: “These earliest of paintings by Rembrandt are fascinating in what they tell us of the young artist’s abilities and his immaturity.“The paintings show that at the age of just eighteen, Rembrandt already has a genius for representing human character and emotion, and for packing in amazing amounts of detail into the briefest of brushstrokes – skills that would see him become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.”The fifth painting, Taste, remains lost and possibly destroyed.The Ashmolean is now encouraging visitors to “draw, paint, recreate or just describe” what the painting may look like via its social media channels. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.