Note the dramatic fall in Japanese exports in February was relative to the year-ago level, but that does not make the outcome any less ugly. From Bloomberg:
Overseas shipments fell 49.4 percent from a year earlier, the sharpest decline since at least 1980, when the government started to keep comparable data, the Finance Ministry said today in Tokyo. Economists predicted a 47.6 percent drop.
Shipments to the U.S. tumbled an unprecedented 58.4 percent. Economists say the collapse signals gross domestic product will shrink this quarter at a similar pace to the annualized 12.1 percent contraction posted in the previous three months, the sharpest since 1974….
“There’s a still of lot of weakness out there; that’s going to be a big drag on production and most people are looking for the first-quarter GDP to be as bad as the previous quarter,” said David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore. “Japan is as dependent on exports as anybody.”