Japan's exports dipped in June, the first drop in four months, as slowdown in key markets including Europe and China, hurt demand.
Exports dipped 2.3% from a year earlier, compared with a 10% jump in the previous month.
Shipments to the European Union declined by 21.3%, while those to China were down by 7.3%.
Japan relies heavily on exports for growth and there have been fears that a global slowdown may hurt its economy.
Analysts warned that exports may continue to remain weak in the near term.
"Exports remain sluggish and you can't expect much from external demand to drive the Japanese economy in the latter half of this fiscal year," said Yasuo Yamamoto a senior economist with Mizuho Research Institute.
Mr Yamamoto added that if the debt crisis in eurozone worsened and the US and Chinese economies slowed down further, the impact on Japan's exports and economy may be even more pronounced.
"I don't think the Japanese economy is sliding back into recession, but that possibility cannot be totally ruled out."
To make matters more complicated for policymakers, imports also fell in June, indicating that domestic demand in Japan was not increasing enough to offset the decline in exports.
Imports fell by 2.2% during the month, from a year ago level after having jumped more than 9% in May.
While a big role in the decline in imports was played by the fall in oil prices, analysts said that the drop in Japan-bound shipments of other commodities indicated an overall weakness in domestic demand.
Imports of iron and steel products fell 12%, while shipments of non-ferrous metals declined more than 10%.
Analysts said the slowdown in exports coupled with a weak domestic demand indicated that Japan's growth may slow down.
"Back in April, the main scenario for Japan was that the economy would recover on domestic reconstruction demand and an expansion of exports. The export part of that scenario is crumbling," said Seji Adachi of Deutsche Securities.
"Japan's economic recovery could have already peaked in the first half of the year."
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