TOKYO (AFP) - Japans exports soared at the fastest pace in about three decades last month, helping the worlds number two economy to extend a recovery from the worst recession in decades, data showed Wednesday. Worldwide demand for Japanese cars, electronics and other goods is rebounding after collapsing during the global economic crisis which erupted in 2008. Exports in February leapt 45.3 percent to 5.13 trillion yen ($56b), the fastest year-on-year growth since April 1980, according to the finance ministry. While exports are still about one quarter lower than their level two years ago, the picture has brightened significantly compared with February 2009, when shipments roughly halved from a year earlier. Exports, the driving force of a recovery in Japanese corporate earnings, have maintained their steam, said Naoki Murakami, chief economist at Monex Securities. The momentum in the global economic recovery is becoming stronger thanks to a US rebound since late 2009, which followed upturns in the Chinese and other Asian economies, Murakami wrote in a note. Last month Japans trade surplus surged more than nine-fold to 651.0 billion yen (7.2 billion dollars) from 70.8 billion a year earlier, topping market expectations. Shipments of automobiles more than doubled despite the safety woes of Toyota Motor, which has recalled more than eight million vehicles worldwide. Auto part exports rose 121.7 percent while electronics components were up 69.1pc. Imports increased 29.5 percent to 4.48 trillion yen owing to higher prices of oil and nonferrous metals. Credit Suisse economists said the latest data confirm that both exports and imports have continued to recover. While we had been concerned about the negative impact of automobile recall issues, auto exports to the US increased 129.9 percent year-on-year in February, they noted. Japans surplus with the United States surged 173.0 percent to 395.9 billion yen and with the European Union it rose 69.9 percent to 165.9 billion yen. With China, Japans biggest trading partner, the trade balance slipped into a deficit of 24.6 billion yen from a year-earlier surplus of 10.6 billion yen. Japans exports to China grew 47.7 percent on robust shipments of cars and parts but imports rose by a brisker 54.3 percent due to increased purchases of clothing, audio and video devices, computers and other electronic equipment. The Japanese economy is still relatively weak but domestic demand has been somewhat resilient helped by a recent slight upturn in wages, said Takeshi Minami, economist at Norinchukin Research Institute. As long as Chinas economy grows healthily, Japan will keep benefiting, Minami said. On the other hand, Chinas credit-tightening policy, if excessive, could pose risks to Japanese exports. Japans economy plunged into its most severe post-war recession in 2008, with its heavy dependence on foreign markets making it one of the worst affected by the global economic downturn. It returned to growth in the second quarter of 2009 but the recovery remains fragile with falling consumer prices, high public debt and weak domestic demand all major concerns for policymakers. Japans parliament on Wednesday passed a record trillion-dollar budget for the coming year to March 2011, adding to the countrys bulging public debt burden as Tokyo tries to stimulate the sluggish economy.