Japan's crude steel output in the January-June period rose 4.3 percent over the year before to 59.41 million tons, a record for any calendar-year first half, an industry body said Thursday.
The figure is the second-largest for any six-month period, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said, adding the six-month record was 61.51 million tons logged in the July-December period of 1973.
The federation traced steelmakers' buoyant first-half performance to greater demand from the Japanese automobile and construction industries, as well as to robust exports to Asian destinations.
An official at a major steelmaker said, "We expect production to remain at high levels in the coming months."
Breaking down the first-half total by steel type, output of ordinary steel products that have wide-ranging uses came to 46.25 million tons, up 4.4 percent.
Specialty steel whose strength was reinforced for use in building automobiles and other machines rose 4.0 percent to 13.16 million tons, a record for any calendar-year half.
Crude steel products -- manufactured by removing oxides and other impurities from ores -- are half-finished products before they are processed into sheets or bars.
In June alone, crude steel production increased 2.9 percent from a year before to 9.98 million tons, an all-time high for any June. The figure marked the 13th consecutive month that output exceeded year-before levels