TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese exports tumbled in March, the government reported Wednesday.
Trade figures in Japan are the latest bad news for its export driven economy.
Exports fell 45.6 percent last month, compared with March 2008. Although still a significant decline, the numbers were slightly better than those from February, when the slump approached 50 percent.
Imports also were down in March, falling 36.7 percent from 2008 levels.
Japan normally exports far more than it imports. While its trade balance has remained positive, it shrank by 99 percent compared with a year ago.
Japan's economy has been disproportionately affected by the credit crisis, because of its dependence on international trade, said Satoru Ogasawara, a senior economist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
"The housing boom in the States and the economic growth of China had been good for the corporate sector," but the expansion of wealth did not trickle down to Japanese consumers, he said. "Domestic demand has remained low."
Japan's proposed $150 billion stimulus package includes measures to help boost domestic consumption in the world's second-largest economy.
The country's economy is forecast to contract by 5.8 percent in 2009.