* Net imports of gold in Dec at 1,885 kg
* Only 10th time since end-2005 that Japan is net monthly
* Dec net imports probably related to futures contract
(Adds trader's comments on likely reason for change)
TOKYO, Jan 30 Japan imported more gold than it
shipped overseas in December, the first time the country has
been a net importer on a monthly basis since July 2010, customs
data showed on Thursday.
Imports totaled 3,429 kilograms (kg) in December, while the
country exported 1,544 kg, leaving it with net purchases of
1,885 kg, according to the customs data released by the Ministry
It was only the tenth time that Japan has been a net monthly
buyer of gold since the end of 2005, the last year the country
was a net importer on an annual basis.
It is likely to be a one-off event and was probably related
to a Tokyo Commodity Exchange futures contract delivery, said a
trader at a bank.
It was unlikely the turn to net imports was because of
increased buying before a sales tax increase that's due at the
end of March, the trader added.
Japanese holders of gold have been selling jewellery and
bars to pay for other purchases and spending, including on
children's education, amid the stagnant economic growth and
deflation that the country is now emerging from.
Japan remains a net exporter on an annual basis and shipped
more than 50 metric tonnes of gold overseas last year, according
to the customs data.
Spot gold fell about 0.4 percent on Thursday to
$1262.56 an ounce as buyers from China, the world's biggest
importer, stayed away from the market in advance of the Lunar
Gold dropped 28 percent last year on an improving global
economy, and in anticipation of a cut in U.S. monetary stimulus.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Muralikumar