TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's trade surplus with the world rose 24.7 percent in August for the 17th straight month of increase.

The merchandise trade surplus, a tally of goods exported minus imports, rose to 896.7 billion yen ($6.72 billion) from the same month last year, the Finance Ministry announced Monday.

The surplus is measured as goods pass customs but before adjustment for seasonal factors.

Japan's politically sensitive surplus with the United States, meanwhile, continued to climb, rising 28.4 percent to 431 billion yen ($3.23 billion). It was the 23nd straight month of increase.

The trade surplus has been rising as Japan has increased its reliance on exports to pull itself out of a prolonged slump. The weak domestic economy has also crimped demand for foreign goods.

Japan has come under increasing pressure to revive its recession-plagued economy and help struggling Asian nations by importing more from the region.