Current Status and Future Prospects for the Japanese Steel Market
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∙ Post-war steel demand in Japan in terms of apparent crude steel consumption experienced three boom periods. Since total fixed capital formation flattened in the 1990s, the expansion in indirect exports has supported the increase in demand. In the pre-Lehman boom period, demand increased mainly in the manufacturing sector, particularly in automobile. Both domestic sales and exports were increasing during the rapid economic growth period, but in the bubble economy period exports declined while domestic sales were increasing.
∙ Steel demand is expected to be pushed down in Japan as housing starts are forecast to shrink further due to the declining population. To cope with this issue, Japan is promoting the formation of more compact cities and the renewal of aging buildings and infrastructure.
∙ The Japanese steel industry needs to closely observe future demand and evolving needs and develop high-quality steel products. The key to the future success lies in the efforts to constantly promote the research and development of high-value-added products and to improve service capabilities in response to the changing requirements in the steel market.