Nippon Steel on Saturday shut down all facilities at its Kure plant in Hiroshima Prefecture, closing the curtain on 72 years of operations at the historic site where the Imperial Japanese Navy had its main shipyard until the end of World War II.

As part of drastic business reforms, drawn up in response to falls in domestic steel demand, Japan's largest steel-maker said in February 2020 that it would close its 130-hectare Setouchi Works Kure Area.

The steel-maker wrapped up shipping its products from the plant on Sept. 14. Nippon Steel said it plans to dismantle all the facilities at the site over 10 years or so and will decide on how to use the land in consultation with the local government.

The company had already ceased operating blast furnaces at the Kure site by September 2021.

There were around 3,300 workers employed by Nippon Steel and its partner companies at the Kure plant in early 2020 when the steel-maker announced the closure.

Japanese steel-makers have been forced to scale down their output since their clients, which include manufacturers and automakers, shifted production overseas.

Nippon Steel now has 11 blast furnaces still running in Japan. It also plans to stop operations at a furnace in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, by the end of March 2025, cutting its annual crude steel production from 50 million tons to 40 million tons.

Its rival JFE Holdings halted operations at a blast furnace on Sept. 16 at its Kawasaki plant, reducing the number of blast furnaces the company operates in Japan to seven.

While scaling back production of general-use steel, major steel-makers have been reallocating their resources to make high-tensile and electrical steel, the latter being an iron alloy offering high magnetic permeability that is used in electrical equipment, including electric motors.