• Kyodo News

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Crude steel production in Japan fell 13.2 percent in fiscal 2008 from a year earlier to 105.50 million tons, the sharpest percentage fall on record, due partly to a plunge in demand from automakers, an industry body said Monday.

The output sank below year-before levels for the first time in three years amid the global economic downturn, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said.

Although crude steel production set an all-time high in fiscal 2007 on strong demand from emerging economies, the recession in fiscal 2008 saw output sharply down, the federation said.

The output of specialty steel for use in automobiles and similar products plummeted 15.8 percent to 22.22 million tons, while that of ordinary steel for use in a wide variety of industrial products sank 12.4 percent to 83.28 million tons.

In March alone, crude steel output nose dived 46.7 percent to 5.74 million tons, the steepest monthly percentage fall on record and the sixth straight monthly fall, it added.

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