The Japanese trade deficit widened to 1.45 trillion yen about $US14.1 billion in March, according to latest report from the Ministry of Finance.
The number was wider than expectations for 1.08 trillion yen.
This came on the back of an 18.1% year-over-year rise in imports, which were above expectations for a 16.2% rise.
Meanwhile, imports were up a modest 1.8%, below expectations for a 6.5% rise.
Demand for foreign goods climbed ahead of the April 1 sales-tax rise. This along with higher energy costs pushed the deficit to the highest on record for March, according to Bloomberg.
Japanese policymakers have been pushing easy monetary and fiscal policies (also known as Abenomics) to boost economic growth. This has caused the yen to weaken which also helps makes imports more expensive.
The Nikkei is up 0.8% on Monday. Many markets are closed for Easter.