Japan’s crude steel production during the fiscal year 2019 (April 2019-March 2020) hit the lowest in ten fiscal years or the first time below 100 million tonnes at 98.43 million tonnes, or down 4.3% on year, according to the data released by the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF) on May 19.
The FY19 crude steel output was even lower than the 96.45 million tonnes for FY2009 around the last financial crisis, a JISF official pointed out on Wednesday.
Japan’s crude steel output had been steady in the first half of FY19, and the decline had emerged in the second half after October as both the domestic and global economies had felt the impact of the China-US trade friction, he elaborated.
“On top of that, the Japanese steel mills had to stop production when the huge typhoons hit across Japan, damaging their facilities in October,” he added.
The data release was a month later from the usual April 22 because of the state of emergency in Japan starting April 8 to curb the spread of the COVID-19, JISF explained.
Among the total output, the blast-furnace (BF) integrated steel mills produced 74.9 million tonnes, down 15.6% on year and the volume from the electric-arc-furnace (EAF) mills dropped 9.8% on year to 23.53 million tonnes.
For the last month of FY19, Japan’s crude steel output fell 12.5% on year to 7.95 million tonnes, and among the total, that from the BF mills totalled 6.05 million tonnes, down 10.8% on year that EAF mill posted a 17.5% on-year decline, according to the JISF data.
As for finished steel, the total production for the FY19 reached 83.63 million tonnes, or down 5.4% on year, among which 66.37 million tonnes were carbon steel, down 4% on year.
Special steel accounted for 17.26 million tonnes, down 10.6% on year, mainly as the demand for the latter from the domestic auto sector including automakers and spare parts makers decreased together with a slower domestic economy, according to the JISF official.
By product in the carbon steel sector, hot-rolled coil was the only one with a on-year positive growth of 10.4% to 16.89 million tonnes, not because of higher demand but because of lower HRC output in FY18 from the integrated mills due to the faulty facilities, forcing them to cut down exports of HRC, the core product for overseas sales, according to a Tokyo trader.