JFE Steel Corp. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. abandoned plans to develop a coal-fired power plant near Tokyo that had drawn scrutiny from a government official.

The companies will consider building a natural gas-fired power plant instead, they said in a statement Thursday. The originally planned 1.07-gigawatt coal-fired plant drew criticism last year from the environment minister at the time, Koichi Yamamoto, who urged the companies to review the plan citing environmental concerns.

"The company and its partners decided to cancel the project because construction costs would increase more than originally anticipated," a spokesman for JFE Steel told reporters Thursday. "Coal-fired power generation itself isn't a reason for canceling the project."

Scrutiny of Japan's coal use is growing amid a broader global move away from fossil fuels.