TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's unadjusted trade surplus fell 36 percent in November from year- earlier levels, the seventh straight month that the country's surplus has fallen, the Finance Ministry said today.

The surplus of $4.74 billion was down from $7.40 billion in November last year.

A ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the decline to the sharp increase in imports and slow increase in exports that resulted from the Japanese yen's sharp rise against the U.S. dollar. The yen's rise has made Japanese goods more expensive abroad and foreign goods cheaper in Japan.

The official said Japan's trade surplus with the United States in November declined to $4.2 billion, down 14 percent from $4.99 billion in November last year.

Japan's imports from the United States rose by 40.1 percent from a year earlier to $2.8 billion in November and its exports to the United States increased by 1.7 percent to $7 billion, the official said.

The November figures were released the same day that the Commerce Department announced the the U.S. trade deficit - including trade with Japan - surged in October to $17.6 billion.

The official said Japan's total imports rose by 49 percent from a year earlier to a monthly record $14.17 billion in November, while exports grew by 11.8 percent to $18.9 billion.