TOKYO (AP) _ A key measure of trade in Japan declined 16.5 percent in April, the Finance Ministry announced Thursday.

The surplus in the current account _ Japan's broadest measure of trade _ fell to a non-seasonally adjusted $7.38 billion from the same month last year, the ministry said.

The current account measures trade in merchandise, services, tourism and investment. It is calculated by determining the difference between Japan's income from foreign sources against payments on foreign obligations. It excludes net capital investment.

Last month the ministry announced that the surplus rose 17.6 percent in fiscal year 1998 to a record high of $124 billion for the 12 months to March 31. The previous record was $123 billion set in fiscal 1992.

Earlier this year, the ministry announced that the current account surplus for calendar 1998 surged 38.7 percent to an unprecedented $133.6 billion.

The huge surplus has been a constant source of friction with the United States and other trading partners. They have been urging Japan to boost its economy to stimulate imports.