TOKYO Japanese steel
output fell for a second consecutive year in 2012, falling 0.3
percent to 107.2 million tonnes as steelmakers faced continued
weak demand at home and in export markets, according to Japan
Iron and Steel Federation data.
In particular, demand for
vehicles weakened after a government subsidy program for
environmentally friendly vehicles ended in September, hitting
steel demand and forcing producers to rein in their output, the
trade group said.
Demand also was impacted by the
global economic downturn and the strong yen, which hampered
exports, as well as Japans territorial dispute with China
that led to a wide-scale boycott of Japanese goods,
Japans Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry recently estimated that the Chinese
boycott cost Japanese mills some 550,000 tonnes in lost
production in the last three months of 2012.
Production by Japanese blast
furnace steelmakers, the main source of steel used in vehicles
and electronic appliances, fell 0.5 percent last year to 82.3
million tonnes. Output by electric-arc furnace (EF) mills,
which is used mostly in construction, rose 0.3 percent to 24.9
million tons, boosted by stronger demand for reconstruction and
civil engineering projects.
However, crude steel production
totaled 8.6 million tonnes in December, up 2 percent from the
same month a year earlier, the first increase in four months
and an indication that perhaps the worst is over for the
Export demand is on the rise,
thanks largely to recent large falls in the value of the yen,
and cheap imports also have slowed considerably, helping EF
There is hope that the governments massive economic
stimulus package, a good portion of which has been earmarked
for infrastructure projects, will help increase steel demand
over the next few months.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister
publication Steel First.