TOKYO (AP) — Japan says its trade deficit ballooned to a record high 1.48 trillion yen ($18.7 billion) in January, the biggest in the three decades that such data became available.

The numbers released Monday by the Ministry of Finance highlight this nation's surging import of fuel after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster sent a nuclear plant into meltdown. That halted operations of nearly all 54 reactors for inspections.

The trade deficit in January was the biggest since such figures started to be compiled in 1979.